‘We are seeking justice for Debra Chrisjohn, not just a slap on the wrist’

As the trial of London Constable Nicholas Doering continued at the courthouse, family and supporters of Debra Chrisjohn gathered outside for an Indigenous drum and singing ceremony. Sawyer Bogdan / 980 CFPL

Debra Lee Chrisjohn’s family and friends are calling for justice for the 39-year-old, who died in police custody in 2016.

They gathered outside the London courthouse Friday afternoon with supporters to spread awareness about what happened to her.

London police Const. Nicolas Doering is on trial this week after being charged with criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessaries of life in connection with Chrisjohn’s death.

“We are seeking justice for Debra Chrisjohn, not just a slap on the wrist, because we are seeing it way too often, it’s not just in London that police officers are not being held accountable for what’s happening,” said family friend Lela George.

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A member of the Oneida Nation of Thames, Chrisjohn was also a mother to 11 children and grandmother to three grandchildren.

“She was a human being, she had a family, she was a mother, she was a sister, she had friends, she had a community,” said George.

SIU spokesperson Monica Hudon said Chrisjohn was rushed to hospital at 7:52 p.m. on Sept. 7 in 2016.

“Ms. Chrisjohn was arrested by the London Police Service and transferred on an outstanding warrant into the custody of OPP officers with the Elgin County detachment,” she explained.

Later that night, she was pronounced dead at the hospital.

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Another officer was also charged with criminal negligence causing death, but in July of 2017, the charge against OPP Const. Mark McKillop was dropped.

Debra’s sister Brittany told the crowd it’s hard to get over her death with the ongoing court case.

“It’s like opening up an old scar, and it’s not over and we will get justice for Debra,” she said.

The trial will finish on Monday and a judge will likely make the final decision at a later date.

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