Tag Archives: officer

Stress from scuffle with police ‘more than Mr. Floyd could take’, medical officer testifies

George Floyd’s scuffle with police, along with Derek Chauvin’s knee pressed into his neck, was too much for his underlying heart condition and caused the death of the 46-year-old Black man, the local county’s chief medical officer told a Minneapolis court on Friday.

“[The adrenaline is] going to ask your body for more oxygen so that you can get through that altercation,” said Dr. Andrew Baker, the Hennepin County medical examiner who conducted the autopsy on Floyd and ruled his death to be a homicide.

Baker’s testimony marked the 10th day of the murder trail of Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer who is facing trial on charges of second-degree unintentional murder; third-degree murder; and second-degree manslaughter in connection with the death of Floyd.

“And in my opinion, the law enforcement subdual restraint and the neck compression was just more than Mr. Floyd could take by virtue of those heart conditions,” Baker said.

Baker’s testimony veered somewhat from what the court had previously heard from other medical witnesses called by the prosecution.

Floyd died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, pressed a knee on the back of his neck for around nine minutes as two other officers held him down.

Witness reaffirmed autopsy report

The outcome of the high profile trial is being closely watched after video of the arrest of Floyd captured by a bystander prompted widespread outrage, setting off protests over race and police brutality across the U.S. and around the world.

Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell questions Baker at the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. (Court TV/Associated Press)

The prosecution says Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck while detaining him on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill at a convenience store, caused his death. But the defence argues Chauvin did what his training taught him and that it was a combination of Floyd’s underlying medical conditions, drug use and adrenaline flowing through his system that ultimately killed him.

The court has so far heard from prosecution medical experts, including a leading lung specialist, who have testified that Floyd died from asphyxia — or insufficient oxygen — because of the actions of police. Baker has not ruled asphyxiation to be a cause of Floyd’s death.

Previous witnesses had significantly downplayed Floyd’s pre-existing medical conditions and drugs found in his system as playing a role in his death. 

However, Baker reaffirmed the findings of his autopsy report. He said those elements were contributing factors, though not the primary cause of death.

Adrenaline impacts

Under questioning by prosecutor Jerry Blackwell, Baker explained that Floyd had narrowed coronary arteries — about 75 per cent blockage in his left anterior descending artery and 90 per cent blockage in his right coronary artery. Floyd also had hypertensive heart disease, meaning his heart weighed slightly more than it should.

Chauvin’s defence attorney Eric Nelson cross-examines Baker. (Court TV/Associated Press)

Floyd’s confrontation with police, which included being pinned facedown on the pavement while Chauvin pressed his knees into his neck, produced adrenaline that made Floyd’s heart beat faster.

Baker testified that Floyd died of “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.” 

Asked to explain cardiopulmonary arrest, Baker said that was “fancy medical lingo for the heart and the lungs stopped.”

He also explained the definition of “homicide” in an autopsy report, that it was a medical and not a legal term, which is applied when the actions of other people were involved in an individual’s death.


During cross-examination, Chauvin’s lawyer Eric Nelson seized on the potential role played by Floyd’s heart condition and drugs found in his system.

“In your opinion, both the heart disease as well as the history of hypertension and the drugs that were in his system played a role in Mr. Floyd’s death?” Nelson asked Baker.

“In my opinion, yes,” Baker said. 

Chauvin takes notes at his trial in the death of George Floyd. (Court TV/Associated Press)

Baker also agreed that he had certified overdose as the cause of death in other autopsies where that individual had much lower levels of fentanyl in their system than was found in Floyd.

Nelson asked Baker if he recalled having conversations last year with prosecutors in which he described the level of fentanyl found in Floyd’s system was a “fatal level.”

“I recall describing it in other circumstances, it would be a fatal level,” Baker said.

But Baker also agreed that he had described Floyd’s s death as a “multifactorial process.”

He said drugs and hypertension were not “direct causes” but they were “contributing causes.”

The trial continues. 

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Officer dead, driver fatally shot after ramming vehicle into barricade near the U.S. Capitol

A Capitol Police officer was killed Friday after a man rammed a car into two officers at a barricade outside the U.S. Capitol and then emerged wielding a knife. It was the second line-of-duty death this year for a department still struggling to heal from the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Video shows the driver of the crashed car emerging with a knife in his hand and starting to run at the pair of officers, Capitol Police Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman told reporters. The driver stabbed one of the officers, Pittman said. Authorities shot the suspect, who died at a hospital.

Two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that the suspect stabbed one of the officers. The officials spoke to AP were not authorized to publicly discuss the pending investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

“I just ask that the public continue to keep U.S. Capitol Police and their families in your prayers,” Pittman said. “This has been an extremely difficult time for U.S. Capitol Police after the events of Jan. 6 and now the events that have occurred here today.”

Police identified the slain officer as William “Billy” Evans, an 18-year veteran who was a member of the department’s first responders unit.

Police identified the slain officer as William ‘Billy’ Evans, an 18-year veteran who was a member of the department’s first responders unit. (U.S. Capitol Police via AP)

Authorities said that there wasn’t an ongoing threat and that the attack did not appear to be related to terrorism, though the Capitol was put on lockdown as a precaution. There was also no immediate connection apparent between Friday’s crash and the Jan. 6 riot.

The crash and shooting happened at a security checkpoint near the Capitol typically used by senators and staff on weekdays, though most are away from the building during the current recess. The attack occurred about 100 yards (91 metres) from the entrance of the building on the Senate side of the Capitol. One witness, the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, said he was finishing a Good Friday service nearby when he suddenly heard three shots ring out.

It comes as the Washington region remains on edge nearly three months after a mob of armed insurrectionists loyal to former president Donald Trump stormed the Capitol as Congress was voting to certify Joe Biden’s presidential win.

Five people died in the Jan. 6 riot, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who was among a badly outnumbered force trying to fight off insurrectionists seeking to overturn the election. Authorities installed a tall perimeter fence around the Capitol and for months restricted traffic along the roads closest to the building, but they had begun pulling back some of the emergency measures in recent weeks. Fencing that prevented vehicular traffic near that area was recently removed.

Law enforcement officials identified the slain suspect as 25-year-old Noah Green. Investigators were digging into the suspect’s background and examining whether he had a mental health history as they tried to discern a motive. They were working to obtain warrants to access his online accounts.

A car that crashed into a barrier on Capitol Hill is seen on Friday. (Alex Brandon/The Associated Press)

Pittman said the suspect did not appear to have been on the police’s radar. But the attack underscores that the building and campus — and the officers charged with protecting them — remain potential targets for violence.

Evans is the seventh Capitol Police member to die in the line of duty in the department’s history. Two officers, one from Capitol Police and another from Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department, died by suicide following the Jan. 6 attack.

Almost 140 Capitol Police officers were wounded then, including officers not issued helmets who sustained head injuries and one officer with cracked ribs, according to the officers’ union. It took hours for the National Guard to arrive, a delay that has driven months of finger-pointing between key decision-makers that day.

WATCH | ‘We will get through this,’ says Capitol police chief:

Yogananda Pittman, acting chief of the U.S. Capitol police, thanks the community for supporting them through an ‘extremely difficult and challenging year.’ 0:19

They were called upon soon afterward to secure the Capitol during Biden’s inauguration and faced another potential threat in early March linked to conspiracy theories falsely claiming Trump would retake the presidency.

“Today, once again, these heroes risked their lives to protect our Capitol and our Country, with the same extraordinary selflessness and spirit of service seen on January 6,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “On behalf of the entire House, we are profoundly grateful.”

The suspect had been taken to the hospital in critical condition. One of the officers who was injured was taken by police car to the hospital; the other was transported by emergency medical crews.

U.S. National Guard troops stand guard near the scene of the incident on Friday. (Patrick Semansky/The Associated Press)

The U.S. Capitol complex was placed on lockdown after the shooting and staff were told they could not enter or exit buildings. Video showed National Guard troops mobilizing near the area of the crash.

Video posted online showed a dark-coloured sedan crashed against a vehicle barrier and a police dog inspecting the vehicle. Law enforcement and paramedics could be seen caring for at least one unidentified individual.

U.S. President Joe Biden had just departed the White House for Camp David when the situation unfolded. As customary, he was traveling with a member of the National Security Council Staff who was expected to brief him.

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10 people, including police officer, killed in Colorado supermarket shooting

Ten people, including one police officer, were killed in a shooting at a Colorado supermarket Monday afternoon and a suspect was in custody, authorities said.

“A painstaking investigation is already underway both at the crime scene and in interviews to make sure we receive all the accurate information,” said Boulder District Attorney Michael Dougherty.  Police say the investigation is likely to take at least five days. 

The police officer killed was the first officer on the scene Monday afternoon, according to Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold, who spoke to reporters late in the evening. Eric Talley, 51, had been with the department since 2010. 

The suspect was getting medical treatment and there was no further threat to the public, authorities said. Officers had escorted a shirtless man with blood running down his leg out of the store in handcuffs but authorities would not say if he was the suspect.

Earlier in the day, Boulder police Cmdr. Kerry Yamaguchi said police did not have any details on motive.

People are led out of the King Soopers grocery store after the shooting, Monday, March 22, 2021, in Boulder, Colo. (Hart Van Denburg/Colorado Public Radio via The Associated Press)

‘You need to surrender’

A man who had just left the store in Boulder, Dean Schiller, told The Associated Press that he heard gunshots and saw three people lying face down, two in the parking lot and one near the doorway. He said he “couldn’t tell if they were breathing.”

Law enforcement vehicles and officers massed outside the store, including SWAT teams, and at least three helicopters landed on the roof in the city that’s home to the University of Colorado and is about 40 kilometres northwest of Denver.

Some windows at the front of the store were broken. At one point, authorities over a loudspeaker said the building was surrounded and that “you need to surrender.” They said to come out with hands up and unarmed.

Sarah Moonshadow told the Denver Post that two shots rang out just after she and her son, Nicolas Edwards, finished buying strawberries. She said she told her son to get down and then “we just ran.”

Once they got outside, she said they saw a body in the parking lot. Edwards said police were speeding into the lot and pulled up next to the body.

“I knew we couldn’t do anything for the guy,” he said. “We had to go.”

James Bentz told the Post that he was in the meat section when he heard what he thought was a misfire, then a series of pops.

“I was then at the front of a stampede,” he said.

Bentz said he jumped off a loading dock out back to escape and that younger people were helping older people off of it.

Law enforcement officers sweep the parking lot at the site of a shooting at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colo., on Monday. (Kevin Mohatt/Reuters)

Biden briefed on shooting

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis tweeted a statement that his “heart is breaking as we watch this unspeakable event unfold in our Boulder community.” He called it “very much an active situation” and said the state was “making every public safety resource available to assist the Boulder County Sheriff’s Department as they work to secure the store.”

Boulder police had told people to shelter in place amid a report of an “armed, dangerous individual” about five kilometres away from the grocery store but later lifted it and police vehicles were seen leaving the residential area near downtown and the University of Colorado. They had said they were investigating if that report was related to the shooting at the supermarket but said at the evening news conference that it wasn’t related.

The FBI said it’s helping in the investigation at the request of Boulder police.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted that President Joe Biden had been briefed on the shooting.

Law enforcement officers rush to a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder. (Kevin Mohatt/Reuters)

In a statement, the King Soopers chain offered “thoughts, prayers and support to our associates, customers, and the first responders who so bravely responded to this tragic situation. We will continue to cooperate with local law enforcement and our store will remain closed during the police investigation.”

Kevin Daly, owner of Under the Sun Eatery and Pizzeria Restaurant a block or so from the supermarket, said he was in his shop when he saw police cars arriving and shoppers running from the grocery store. He said he took in several people to keep them warm, and others boarded a bus provided by Boulder police and were taken away.

Police on the scene outside the grocery store where the shooting took place. (David Zalubowski/The Associated Press)

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U.K. police officer charged with murder, kidnapping in Sarah Everard’s death

British police have charged an officer with the kidnap and murder of 33-year-old Sarah Everard, whose disappearance in London last week has sparked anger and fears among women about their safety.

Constable Wayne Couzens, 48, who guarded diplomatic buildings, will appear in court on Saturday. Everard disappeared while walking home from a friend’s house in south London on March 3.

The Metropolitan police had confirmed that a body found in a wood outside London was that of the missing woman.

Her case has led to an outpouring of personal accounts by women of their own experiences and fears of walking streets alone at night, and a campaign for action to address this.

“The investigation continues of course,” Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave told reporters. “I would like to use this opportunity to encourage anyone that thinks they might have useful information to give, to get in contact with us.”

Police officers search a grassy area behind a house in Deal, U.K., on Friday. (Paul Childs/Reuters)

He had said earlier in the day that he understood the hurt and anger sparked by the case.

“Those are sentiments that I share personally,” Ephgrave said. “I also recognize the wider concerns that are being raised quite rightly about the safety of women in public spaces in London and also elsewhere in the country.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel said she would do all she could to protect women and girls following the outcry that has followed Everard’s disappearance.

“Every woman & girl should be free to walk our streets without the slightest fear of harassment, abuse or violence,” she said on Twitter.

However, police have been criticized by organizers of a planned “Reclaim These Streets” vigil on Saturday near to where Everard was last seen, after officers said it could not take place due to COVID-19 restrictions.

A woman in her 30s, who media said was the partner of Couzens, was released on police bail after having been detained on suspicion of assisting an offender.

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B.C.’s provincial health officer seeks injunction against churches for defying COVID orders

B.C.’s provincial health officer is seeking an injunction prohibiting gatherings by three Christian churches that are challenging her orders suspending in-person religious services.

Lawyers for Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C.’s attorney general will be in B.C. Supreme Court on Friday seeking orders against the leaders of Langley’s Riverside Calvary Chapel, Abbotsford’s Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church and the Free Reformed Church of Chilliwack.

The province filed an application for the injunction last week along with a response to a petition by the churches and a handful of others who want to overturn Henry’s orders.

According to the court documents, the province is seeking an order that would prevent elders and members from gathering to worship in their churches and from organizing celebrations, ceremonies, baptisms, funerals or any other “event” as defined by Henry’s orders.

The order would also authorize police to detain anyone they have grounds to believe is planning to attend a religious service organized by any of the three churches.

Freedoms ‘not absolute’

The application for the injunction comes just days after Henry announced an indefinite extension to the orders she issued last November suspending all events and social gatherings in an effort to reduce COVID-19 transmission.

In a petition filed in early January, pastors with the three Fraser Valley Christian churches claim that Henry is violating rights to expression and religious worship guaranteed by the Constitution by shutting churches while allowing restaurants and businesses to remain open.

Their petition seeks to overturn the order against in-person worship.

The province filed a response to the petition last week, claiming there is “no question that restrictions on gatherings to avoid transmission of (COVID-19) limit rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

But the province says the limits are justified.

“Rights and freedoms under the charter are not absolute,” the response says.

Protection of the vulnerable from death or severe illness and protection of the health-care system from being swamped by an out-of-control pandemic is also clearly of constitutional importance.– Provincial response to petition

“Protection of the vulnerable from death or severe illness and protection of the health-care system from being swamped by an out-of-control pandemic is also clearly of constitutional importance.”

Offer ‘sadly rings hollow,’ pastor says

An affidavit from acting deputy provincial health officer Dr. Brian Emerson states that the science shows that COVID-19 spreads better in indoor settings where people from different households gather for longer than 15 minutes.

“Clusters of COVID cases stemming from religious gatherings and religious activities have been noted since the onset of the pandemic globally, nationally and in British Columbia,” the application for the injunction says.

The province’s response says Henry wrote to pastors at the Riverside Calvary Chapel and the Free Reformed Church in December after she became aware of their intention to defy her orders.

The pastor of the Free Reformed Church of Chilliwack allegedly wrote back to say Henry’s “offer to consider a request from our church to reconsider your order sadly rings hollow.”

The court documents say Henry consulted widely with faith leaders before issuing the order to suspend in-person religious services.

A lawsuit filed in January pits a number of Christian churches against B.C.’s provincial health officer. The churches claim Henry is violating their constitutional rights. Henry claims those freedoms are not absolute. (Gerald Herbert/Associated Press)

Churches also have the ability to ask for reconsideration under Section 43 of the Public Health Act.

The response says one such application led to an exemption for synagogues to hold services in open tents with no more than 25 people present.

The three churches at the heart of the lawsuit allegedly filed for reconsideration at the end of January — after suing the government.

The province says no decision should be made on the petition to overturn Henry’s orders until she has had a chance to consider their applications for an exemption from the rules.

Province cites threat of variants

The province’s application for an injunction says complying with Henry’s orders at this point is “critical” because of the threat posed by 18 cases of new variants of the coronavirus first detected in the U.K. and South Africa that have been found in B.C.

The province says the churches have provided no evidence from anybody with a scientific or medical background to say the orders are not reasonable.

“By contrast, the Attorney General and Provincial Health Officer have provided evidence that transmission occurs in social settings … that there is evidence from British Columbia, Canada and around the world of transmission in gatherings, and in particular, religious gatherings,” the application for the injunction says.

The province argues that restrictions on in-person religious services are necessary to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, which could overwhelm B.C.’s health-care system. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The churches are being represented by the Calgary-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.

In a statement, lawyer Marty Moore said the province’s data claims that 180 positive COVID cases have been associated with religious services but does not indicate whether health guidelines were being followed.

“Our clients continue to diligently implement health guidelines and protocols to minimize any risk of COVID transmission, and will be providing the court with evidence attesting to the safety of their services,” Moore wrote.

“The actions of the government to seek an injunction against these three churches who have brought a petition for judicial review of the public health orders does not appear to reflect a genuine effort to advance public health concerns.”  

‘Grassroots’ Christian group seeks intervenor status

On Wednesday, Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson is scheduled to hear an application to intervene in the case from the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA), a group that describes itself as a “grassroots Christian political advocacy organization.”

According to the application, the group speaks for reformed Christians who attend 165 congregations in Canada, including 28 in B.C.

“The impact of COVID-19 restrictions on the practice of in-person public worship (including celebrating communion) has been the top issue of concern for ARPA Canada’s constituency since March 2020,” the application reads.

“That constituency has been profoundly impacted by the orders under review in this proceeding — likely more so than certain other religious groups.”

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Most Canadians could be vaccinated by end of 2021, says federal public health officer

Most Canadians could be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of next year, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer said today.

In recent days, pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna have announced successful trials of their coronavirus vaccines. Dr. Howard Njoo said he is optimistic they can be approved by Health Canada and rolled out soon.

“Hopefully these two vaccines get approved, because we still have to look at the clinical data, the clinical trials to make sure our regulatory colleagues are comfortable and approve them and the other vaccines,” Njoo told reporters in Ottawa today. 

“We’re looking at hopefully covering the vast majority of the Canadian population … by the end of next year. But like I say, this is something that is happening in real time and certainly there will be adjustments made as we move along.”

Canada has signed deals with several vaccine developers to reserve millions of doses under development to ensure Canadians have access to vaccines when they become available.

WATCH:  Dr. Njoo on vaccine rollout:

Canada’s deputy chief public health officer spoke with reporters during the bi-weekly pandemic briefing on Tuesday. 2:18

The federal government has agreements with Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech and Novavax and Janssen, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. It also has deals with Sanofi/GSK, AstraZeneca and Medicago.

Canada will receive 20 to 76 million doses of each vaccine should they make it through clinical trials and be approved by Health Canada.

Pfizer announced last week that its vaccine has proven to be 90 per cent effective at protecting people from COVID-19 in a study that contained almost 44,000 subjects. 

While those early results are promising, a key component of the vaccine has to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius — limiting delivery options once it has been approved by Health Canada.

Freezers being purchased

“Getting those vaccines from an airport tarmac or a port to Canadians right across the country is a significant logistical challenge, one which the government is focused on and working on ardently to be able to make sure that as vaccines arrive, they are getting out to the most vulnerable and the people who need it on a priority basis,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at his morning press conference today.

The prime minister said multiple government agencies and private contractors — and perhaps even the Canadian military — will be drafted to help with the delivery of the vaccine.

Watch: Dr. Peter Singer, Special Adviser to the Director General of the World Health Organization:

Dr. Peter Singer, Special Adviser to the Director General of the World Health Organization, on key questions that still need to be answered regarding the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine. 2:32

Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said the military may be involved in the vaccine rollout because of its logistical expertise, while the federal government will play a significant role in meeting the challenges of distributing a vaccine that has to be kept very cold.

“I do know that yes, absolutely, sufficient freezers are being purchased,” she said. “Some are already. We’ve mapped out the ones already in Canada and the additional ones that might be needed.”

According to Public Services and Procurement Canada, the federal government has purchased 26 freezers that can maintain temperatures of minus 80 degrees Celsius. It also has purchased 100 freezers that can maintain a temperature of minus 20 degrees Celsius.

The federal government has already pre-approved four companies to bid on government contracts to help with vaccine distribution: UPS Healthcare, Federal Express Canada Corp, Kuehn + Nagel Ltd. and McKesson Canada Corporation.

Tam said that once vaccines are approved that can be stored at higher temperatures, distribution will be simplified and the provinces probably won’t need as much federal help in getting them out to the public.

Trudeau added that until a vaccine arrives, Canadians will need to take the usual precautions to “get the second wave under control.”

“This is good news, but remember — a vaccine can only protect you once you’ve gotten the shot,” he said.

Rationing vaccines

Another factor for governments to consider is how to divide vaccine doses between provinces — an issue sources say was discussed during last week’s phone call between the prime minister and the premiers.

During that call, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs suggested governments ration the initial vaccine doses as they did with personal protective equipment in the early days of the pandemic. Higgs argued that provinces should only ask for the doses they need to protect their most vulnerable populations, allowing the rest to go to hot zones across the country. 

“We’ve worked together on this so far, so it wouldn’t be time to all split and run in our corners … when a vaccine actually arrives,” Higgs told CBC News.

WATCH | The logistics behind rolling out a vaccine in Canada:

The federal government is finalizing its plan to roll out COVID-19 vaccines once they are available in Canada. The plan needs to include how to transport, store and deliver millions of doses quickly and may involve military assistance. 1:54

New Brunswick, like the rest of the Atlantic region, has kept its COVID-19 caseloads under good control due to travel limits and quarantine rules. Higgs said the bulk of his province’s 32 cases are related to travel — people who work abroad getting infected and coming home. He said allowing the initial vaccination efforts to focus on hot spots will make New Brunswick safer.

“The fewer hot zones that there are in places where we’re travelling, the less exposure we have in our communities here in New Brunswick. So there’s a direct connection,” Higgs said. “Having those situations addressed, no matter where it is in Canada, will be helpful for us in the long haul too.”

Higgs said his idea was discussed only in passing during last week’s meeting. He said a broader discussion could take place at a formal First Ministers meeting set for early December if there’s greater clarity on the vaccine front at that time.

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Stigmatizing Hutterites about COVID-19 will harm response: public health officer

Canada’s chief public health officer says discrimination against Hutterites will not help build trust as some colonies across the Prairies experience outbreaks of COVID-19.

“The surrounding communities or the rest of the population should not stigmatize these communities,” Dr. Theresa Tam said Tuesday. “It does not help with any of the response.”

There are outbreaks in Hutterite colonies in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Some have been linked to a funeral in southern Alberta for three teens who drowned last month. It drew mourners from all three provinces.

Nearly two dozen new cases were identified on Hutterite colonies in Saskatchewan on Monday.

Premier Scott Moe described the outbreak as severe. But he pointed out that the increasing numbers show Hutterites are taking the right steps and getting tested. He also warned against stigmatizing colony members.

Hutterites are communal, Anabaptist communities. There are about 50,000 members in more than 520 colonies in Canada and the United States.

The Hutterite way of life can make colonies vulnerable to spread of the novel coronavirus since members eat, worship and do many other activities together.

Many colonies have rapidly responded to COVID-19 outbreaks to keep themselves and neighbouring communities safe by mass producing masks or restricting travel in and out.

However, there have been increasing reports of Hutterites facing discrimination when they leave the colony. Members in all three provinces have shared stories of being denied service and turned away from stores.

‘COVID-19 does not discriminate’

Paul Waldner from the CanAm Hutterite Colony in southwest Manitoba sent a letter to Premier Brian Pallister and Health Minister Cameron Friesen last week that said identifying colonies where there are COVID-19 cases has led to cultural and religious profiling. Waldner said he will file a human rights complaint if the practice continues.

Manitoba is no longer identifying colonies where members have tested positive.

Outbreaks in Hutterite communities are complex, Tam said. The federal government is providing epidemiological support and is prepared to help with increased testing and rapid response teams if needed.

Tam said one of the most important aspects of the pandemic response is having public support of health measures. She acknowledged that more work needs to be done in certain communities.

“COVID-19 does not discriminate,” she said. “This virus can affect any one of us.

“So it’s systems and society that discriminate and not the virus itself.”

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Chief public health officer warns of pandemic ‘fatigue’ as COVID cases surge among young people

Canada’s chief public health officer is calling on Canadians to resist giving in to pandemic fatigue as novel coronavirus cases among young people surge across the country.

Dr. Theresa Tam, attending her first press conference since returning from a summer break, said the seven-day average number of new daily cases is rising again after falling earlier this summer.

Tam reinforced a message delivered last week by her deputy, Dr. Howard Njoo — that young people need to continue following public health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“The upward trend in daily case counts is worrisome,” Tam said Friday in Ottawa. “We know that we have the means to keep COVID-19 under control, but this is by no means a sure thing. It is going to take all Canadians doing their part and working together, with public health, to keep the curve down.”

Tam said the peak of new daily cases arrived in early May, when the average daily case count was 1,800. That number fell to 273 in early July but has crept back up to 487 in the last seven days.

People under the age of 39 are driving the surge, Tam said. They account for 60 per cent of new cases reported this week, with over a third ending up in hospital.

“I must urge all Canadians, particularly younger adults, to not give in to COVID-19 fatigue,” she said. “Younger age groups are not invincible against COVID-19.”

Tam said new research indicates that less than one per cent of Canadians have been infected with COVID-19, leaving most of the population without antibodies and therefore vulnerable to becoming infected.

She urged young people to think about their older relatives and friends who could become sick as a result of their actions.

“If we let our guard down, the disease will work its way to our parents and grandparents and other vulnerable people who need to be protected,” she said.

WATCH: Bars, restaurants, social gatherings ‘clearly’ play part in uptick of coronavirus among those under 40, infectious disease expert says

Infectious disease expert Dr. Isaac Bogoch says indoor spaces like bars and restaurants are contributing to the uptick in coronavirus cases among younger people, but shutting them down may not be the answer. 3:04

Avoid crowding, close contact and contained spaces: health minister

Health Minister Patty Hajdu urged Canadians to avoid what she called the “three C’s”: close contact, crowded places and contained spaces.

She said the federal government launched an online tool today to help Canadians evaluate the risks of various activities and behaviours, which will be integrated with the COVID-19 tracing app now in the beta testing phase

“The fact that we’ve got more opportunity to do things in our lives right now is creating confusion and people are unsure about whether or not the activity they’re considering poses a greater risk or not,” Hajdu said in an interview with CBC Radio’s The House airing Saturday.

Hajdu said public health officials are working to craft messaging that does a better job of targeting young people.

“One of the challenges that governments have sometimes is their marketing … doesn’t necessarily come out very quickly or in a language that appeals to the target audience,” Hajdu said. “We’ve been really investing to try and change that and have more nimble, more appropriate conversations with segmented parts of Canadian society.”

Canada’s health minister discusses the rising number of cases of COVID-19 in areas across the country, many of them attributed to younger Canadians. 13:19

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Officer who fatally shot Ejaz Choudry refuses to speak with investigators, police watchdog says

The police officer who fatally shot Ejaz Choudry, a 62-year-old man suffering from a mental health crisis, has refused to speak with Ontario’s police watchdog about his actions last month.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) says the Peel Regional Police officer, whose name has not been released, declined to be interviewed and has also chosen not to submit a copy of his notes.

Under the Police Services Act, officers under investigation, referred to as “subject officers,” cannot be legally compelled to speak with the SIU, the agency said in a news release Thursday afternoon.

The Choudry family’s lawyer said it’s “troubling but not surprising” that the officer won’t speak with the SIU.

“There is nothing he could possibly say that could excuse or justify shooting Ejaz,” said Nader Hasan. 

Hasan added that he and the family learned about the subject officer’s refusal to participate in an interview through media reports Thursday, and criticized the SIU for “attempting to normalize” the officer’s lack of cooperation.

“We were not given any kind of a heads up,” he said.

The officer’s refusal marks the third case to come to light in recent weeks in which subject officers have chosen not to speak with the watchdog. CBC News revealed Wednesday that two officers from Peel Region involved in the fatal Tasering of Clive Mensah also refused. 

Last month, the SIU also indicated the Peel police officer who fatally shot D’Andre Campbell had declined an interview. 

All three cases involve Black people or people of colour whose families say they were struggling with mental health issues.

Debate about officers’ rights

In SIU investigations, subject officers are treated essentially the same as suspects in a criminal investigation. As such, they share the same charter rights as any other member of the public, including the right not to incriminate themselves.

However, the recent cases have sparked debate about whether police officers should be compelled to speak with investigators.

“No one is holding their breath waiting for this SIU investigation,” Hasan said. “We know that they’re a paper tiger with a very poor track record. I hope they prove me wrong, but things like today’s press release do not inspire confidence.”

In 2019, the SIU filed charges against 15 officers in 13 out of 363 closed cases, amounting to a 3.6 per cent charge rate. The year before, criminal charges were laid against 17 officers in 15 out of 416 cases, again accounting for 3.6 per cent. 

Choudry’s family said he suffered from schizophrenia and various other medical conditions, and that they had called a non-emergency line with concerns that he wasn’t taking his medication.

When paramedics arrived, his nephew, Hassan Choudhary, previously told CBC News, they spotted his uncle’s pocketknife — something he kept with him because he felt police “were out to get him.” 

Choudry told family members he wanted to kill himself, according to Choudhary, but no mobile crisis unit was deployed to the home. 

Instead, police have said they used a Taser and plastic bullets on Choudry, and opened fire when those had no effect.

Choudry died at the scene. 

Investigation ongoing 

The SIU says it has completed its fieldwork on the case but that the investigation remains open “pending receipt of additional information.”

So far, the agency says it has interviewed nine witness officers, an unspecified number of civilian witnesses and has obtained video footage. 

The SIU has not yet interviewed Choudry’s family members, saying it is awaiting a decision on their scheduling.

On that point, Hasan told CBC News that it was “outlandish” for the agency to say it was waiting for the family, adding he has repeatedly told the agency the family wants to participate in the process. 

The agency also says it has requested that the family sign a medical release so that investigators can access Choudry’s medical records.

Investigators have collected a police-issued firearm, a stun gun and an anti-riot weapon that fires plastic bullets.

They have also collected a knife from the scene. The knife and firearm have been sent for forensic analysis.

An autopsy was conducted on June 22. The SIU says it is awaiting the results of both the post-mortem and toxicology examinations.

Peel police Chief Nishan Duraiappah previously called for “calm and patience” as the investigation unfolds. 

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Canada’s deputy public health officer concerned about Blue Jays playing at home

Canada’s deputy public health officer says the federal government would be having “a different conversation” with the Toronto Blue Jays about playing regular-season games at Rogers Centre if the United States and Canada were at similar stages in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Howard Njoo said Tuesday that discussions are ongoing between the Canadian government and the Major League Baseball team, but he said the issue of having American-based teams continually crossing the U.S.-Canada border makes talks about hosting regular-season games “a totally different ball game” than the approved plan to allow the Jays to hold training camp at their home facility.

Njoo said the federal, Ontario and Toronto governments were comfortable with the measures the Blue Jays put in place to safely train as a team at Rogers Centre.

However, on the issue of crossing the border, he said Canada is in a different place than the U.S. with regards to COVID-19 “from a pure epidemiological point of view.”

WATCH | Dr. Howard Njoo discusses Blue Jays’ plan to play in Toronto:

Dr Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer and a self-confessed Jays fan, spoke with reporters on Parliament Hill on Tuesday. 3:23

“The issue of the regular season, I think, I was speaking to the potential of travel across the U.S.-Canadian border, not just the Blue Jays leaving town and coming back after a road trip but also for teams coming in, that also is obviously a totally different ball game,” Njoo said.

“Those discussions are ongoing, but what I would say and you can certainly look at the data, is that the situation in Canada and the U.S. I would say from a pure epidemiological point of view is vastly different.”

Njoo said while Canada typically records around 300 new COVID-19 cases daily, the United States records over 60,000 cases per day.

‘Lots of factors in play’

The Jays have stated their preference is to play at Rogers Centre. Alternatives mentioned have been TD Ballpark in Dunedin Fla., in the middle of a coronavirus hot spot, or Sahlen Field in Buffalo, N.Y., which is not considered up to major-league standards. Dunedin is the Blue Jays’ spring-training site, while Buffalo is home to the Blue Jays’ triple-A affiliate.

Njoo said even if teams visiting Toronto adhere to the same standards and protocols, the issue remains that the Blue Jays will be heading into the U.S. for road trips and coming back over the border.

“If [visiting teams] do come to Canada and there’s a very tight quarantine bubble, they don’t leave the hotel and just go to the games, that’s one aspect,” he said.

“But I can appreciate for the Blue Jays, for the players, that’s tough because they’ve had this very tight quarantine and work bubble for spring training here in Canada. But if they were to leave Canada and go on a road trip, it’s hard to look at all the factors involved in terms of what the risk might be for themselves leaving Canada and then coming back.

“So there are lots of factors in play, and I can’t pretend to know all of the possibilities and things that need to be looked at, but that’s certainly I think a major issue in terms of travel back and forth across the U.S. border.”

The Blue Jays’ season opener is July 24 at Tampa Bay. The home opener is July 29 against Washington.

The 2020 season has 60 games, down from the usual 162.

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