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Family of indigenous southern Ontario woman who died in police custody speaks out

The family of Debra Chrisjohn says they still have questions after she died in police custody. Facebook

The family of a First Nations woman who died in police custody in Ontario says her death is part of larger widespread tensions between police and indigenous communities.

Relatives of Debra Chrisjohn say they still have questions about what happened to the 39-year-old from the Oneida Nation of the Thames despite the fact that two police officers are now facing charges in her death.

Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit announced Thursday that Const. Mark McKillop of the Ontario Provincial Police and London, Ont., police Const. Nicholas Doering are charged with one count each of criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessaries of life.

READ MORE: SIU probe into death of 39-year-old woman results in charges against London police officer, OPP officer

Both interacted with Chrisjohn at some point between her arrest on Sept. 7, 2016 and her death later that night.

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A lawyer representing Chrisjohn’s family says any future discussion of the officers’ conduct needs to focus on why they did not seek medical attention for Chrisjohn when it should have been apparent that she required help.

She says Chrisjohn’s death is an example of what she calls the problematic relationship between police forces and indigenous communities across Canada.

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