2 Prince Albert officers suspended amid investigation after baby boy’s death

The Prince Albert home where a 13-month-old boy was found dead in February following a domestic dispute. Devon Latchuk / Global News

Prince Albert police chief Jonathan Bergen has suspended two officers from active duty as the investigation continues into police handling of a domestic dispute that claimed the life of a 13-month-old boy.

On Feb. 10, two officers responded to a home on the 200 block of 23rd Street West in Prince Albert, Sask. According to a police statement, the officers left the home with the mother of the boy.

Read more: Indigenous leaders call for Prince Albert police firings, inquest after infant’s death

The boy, identified as Tanner Brass, was found dead later that same day after police were called back to the home.

Indigenous leaders in Saskatchewan say the death of 13-month-old Tanner Brass was preventable and that systemic racism was a factor. Devon Latchuk / Global News

Prince Albert Police Service has been under scrutiny from the public and the mother following the incident.

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Indigenous leaders from the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nation (FSIN), Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC), and Thunderchild First Nation released a joint statement earlier this month calling the death preventable.

Leaders from the groups said Brass’s mother was fleeing from domestic violence and police ignored her fears and calls for help, and instead arrested her for intoxication.

They added systemic racism was a factor in Brass’s death.

Read more: Change made in Prince Albert police structure following boy’s death

Brass’s father has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with his son’s death and is scheduled to appear in court March 14.

Following Brass’s death, Bergen turned the matter over to the Saskatchewan Public Complaints Commission (PCC) for an independent investigation into police actions.

Indigenous leaders called for the police services and officers involved to be held accountable immediately.

On Thursday, Bergen issued a statement confirming that the PCC confirmed to him on Wednesday the scope of the investigation.

“We understand that based on the PCC’s analysis of the preliminary evidence available, the scope of the independent investigation will include a full investigation of the nature and implications of the response undertaken by the two officers who attended the first call to the residence, based on legal standards imposed on police by legislation and by police conduct regulations,” Bergen said.

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Based on this information, Bergen suspended the two officers pending the outcome of the independent investigation.

“Further decisions will be based on facts and evidence that the PCC investigation will ultimately report on,” Bergen added.

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Bergen said the PCC investigation will also look into “circumstances surrounding any responsibility attributable to three senior supervisory officers at relevant times during the shift on the date in question.”

Bergen said he understands emotions within the community are elevated.

“We hear the expectation of us, we are listening, and as a police service we are committed to continuing to listen and to live up to the expectation on us,” Bergen said.

Click to play video: 'Indigenous leaders call for Prince Albert police firings, inquest after infant’s death'
Indigenous leaders call for Prince Albert police firings, inquest after infant’s death

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