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Police watchdog to investigate fatal RCMP shooting of Indigenous man in New Brunswick

A file photo of an RCMP cruiser.
A file photo of an RCMP cruiser. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

The death of an Indigenous man shot by RCMP in New Brunswick on Friday night has spurred an investigation by Quebec’s police watchdog to determine what unfolded and if police actions were reasonable.

Friends have identified the victim to Global News as Rodney Levi, a member of the Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq Nation. His death comes a week after Chantel Moore, originally from the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation in B.C., was shot by a police officer in Edmundston, N.B.

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The Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI) issued a news release and said eight of its investigators will lead the investigation into Friday’s shooting and they will receive technical support from the Sûreté du Québec.

READ MORE: N.B. to hold coroner’s inquest into death of Chantel Moore as calls for systemic review continue

According to information the BEI said it received from the RCMP, the incident occurred at about 8 p.m. Atlantic time in the Miramichi area in northern New Brunswick.

The BEI said Mounties were responding to a person in distress and were told that the person may have a knife.

Police officers tracked the man into a building and saw he did have a knife. According to the police watchdog, an officer deployed a Taser on the man several times but the man allegedly continued to charge at officers.

At that point, the BEI said one of the officers shot the man with their gun. Police tried to provide medical assistance at the scene but the man was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

READ MORE: Alberta RCMP dashcam video shows violent arrest of First Nation chief, moments leading up to it

Metepenagiag Chief Bill Ward said on Facebook that he is “so mad and sad, I don’t know what to think,” but did not provide any further information. Global News was unable to reach Ward Friday night.

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Others who identified themselves as friends of Levi and members of his community expressed grief and anger over the shooting.

Rodney Levi in an undated photo.
Rodney Levi in an undated photo. Submitted

“Got tears in my eyes thinking how this happened… Still can’t believe it,” said one person who said he and Levi were childhood friends.

Another said Levi “was a good man with a big heart” and that he was “a victim of an oppressive system.”

One friend told Global News that Levi had an addiction problem and was seeking help from his pastor when he died.

The BEI is asking for any witnesses to the incident to come forward and said it expects to provide an update sometime on Saturday morning.

READ MORE: N.B. premier’s statement on Chantel Moore ‘incredibly insensitive’: Wolastoqey Nation chiefs

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The BEI is also investigating Moore’s shooting on June 4. Police have said an officer performing a wellness check allegedly encountered a woman with a knife.

Moore, 26, had moved to Edmundston to be near her mother and six-year-old daughter.

There have been calls since that incident for a broader inquiry to examine systemic bias against Indigenous people in the province’s policing and criminal justice systems.

Jake Stewart, New Brunswick’s minister of Aboriginal affairs, has said he supports the call and that the province has a problem with systemic racism toward Indigenous people.

—With files from the Canadian Press

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Violent arrest of First Nation chief sparks calls for change