Police ethics commissioner orders investigation into 2018 shooting death of Quebec teen

Tracy Wing stands near the spot where she believes her 17-year-old son Riley Fairholm was killed by SQ officers in July 2018. Dan Spector / Global News

A police ethics commissioner in Quebec is ordering an investigation into the fatal shooting of a Lac-Brome teenager last year.

Riley Fairholm, 17, was shot and killed by Sûreté du Québec (SQ) police officers in the early morning of July 25, 2018 in the Eastern Townships.

The province’s Independent Investigations Bureau (BEI) reported that Fairholm was walking down a main street in Lac-Brome holding an air gun and screaming. After a witness called 911, police officers arrived at the scene and told Fairholm to drop the weapon.

READ MORE: Mother of Quebec teen shot by police presents petition for body cameras at National Assembly

According to the BEI’s investigation, Fairholm instead walked toward the police officers when one of them opened fire. No charges have been laid to date.

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The teenager’s parents have been searching for answers since their son’s death nearly 14 months ago.

Tracy Wing, Fairholm’s mother, presented a petition calling for police to wear body cameras at the National Assembly this spring.

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In December 2018, she filed a complaint with the police ethics commission over how both the police intervention and investigation were handled.

“I always felt like the police just acted way too quickly,” she told Global News on Thursday.

READ MORE: Lac-Brome mother of teen killed during shooting petitions for police body cameras

A few weeks ago, Wing received a letter from the commission about its preliminary decision on her complaint. Deputy commissionner Hélène Tremblay dismissed three claims, ordered one to be reviewed through conciliation and said it will investigate four other allegations.

Tremblay is ordering an ethics investigation into the entire police intervention leading to Fairholm’s death and the actions of the SQ police officers who were on the scene following the shot that resulted in his death.

It will also probe the alleged non-compliance of SQ police officers “regarding certain obligations set out in the regulation respecting the conduct of investigations of the Bureau des enquetes independantes [BEI].”

The investigation will also look at the actions of the SQ police liaison officer at the hospital where Fairholm was taken following the shooting.

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It’s a step forward for Wing, who has been demanding more information regarding the circumstances surrounding her son’s death. She says the commission will assign an investigator to the case in the next 45 days.

“Nothing is going to change the past, but for the future and better interventions, I feel good about that aspect,” she said.

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— With files from Global News’ Dan Spector

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