Prince Albert police officers ‘neglected duty’ in death of baby boy: watchdog

Click to play video: 'Prince Albert police officers ‘neglected duty’ in death of baby boy'
Prince Albert police officers ‘neglected duty’ in death of baby boy
The province has completed its report into Prince Albert Police Service actions leading up to the death of a 13-month-old last year. Gates Guarin has more on the challenging investigation. – May 18, 2023

A Saskatchewan investigation has concluded Prince Albert Police officers were neglectful of their duties the day 13-month-old Tanner Brass died.

On Feb. 11, 2022, the Prince Albert Police Service called for an inquest into the circumstances surrounding Tanner’s death. Indigenous leaders claimed that systemic racism was a factor in Tanner’s death and his loss was preventable.

Tanner died on Feb. 10, 2022, in a home in Prince Albert. Police still haven’t revealed the cause of death.

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

“The Public Complaints Commission found neglect of duty by officers of the Prince Albert Police Service in its investigation, and has submitted its findings to the Chief to impose appropriate discipline,” read the report.

Story continues below advertisement

The report outlined a timeline of events the morning of Tanner’s death, saying that at 5:45 a.m., Tanner’s mother, Kyla Frenchman, called police to her home, saying she had been assaulted by her partner, Kaij Brass, and feared for the safety of herself and her child.

She told police he was intoxicated and that she was waiting for a ride to come from La Ronge for her and her son.

Tanner’s father would not open the door to responding officers and they decided they didn’t need to enter the house.

Tanner was locked inside with his father at the time.

Police decided Tanner was safe with his father, despite Frenchman saying the father “hits him … he hits (Tanner) when he puts him to bed,” in her 911 call.

For the 13 minutes that the officers were outside with Frenchman, neither attempted to check on Tanner. They didn’t call any other officers for assistance.

Click to play video: 'Mother of murdered 13-month-old infant calls for strict action to be taken against Prince Albert Police'
Mother of murdered 13-month-old infant calls for strict action to be taken against Prince Albert Police

The report indicated that under the force’s intimate partner violence policy, they were required to “ensure the immediate safety of the complainant and any children who may be present” before leaving the scene.

Story continues below advertisement

As Frenchman had nowhere else to go and no immediate ride, the officers took her to the PAPS detention centre, leaving Tanner in the house with his father.

“Furthermore, (the officers) did not obtain a victim impact statement regarding the alleged assault against (Frenchman); nor did they take information concerning (Kaij’s) level of intoxication and whether he was safe to be alone with (the baby),” the report stated.

Frenchman claimed in earlier statements to police that she pleaded with them to send officers to the house for her son, saying that he was in danger.

The report said that reviews of audio and video recordings from the cellblock simply stated that she was given toiletries and new clothing and was resting quietly.

“At 10:45 am, police dispatch received a call in which the male caller indicated that he had killed his baby,” the report read.

Kaij Brass was charged with the second-degree murder of his son and will face a judge-alone trial in February 2024.

It is now up to the Prince Albert police chief to decide on any disciplinary actions against the officers.

“What we need now is accountability and action to address the profound racism and discrimination First Nations people experience daily at the hands of police in Saskatchewan,” said FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron in a media release Thursday. “Though we demand that the officers be held criminally accountable for their failure to prevent the death of Baby Tanner, systemic racism and neglect must be addressed from the top down.”

Story continues below advertisement

“The PAPS police service is failing to protect our most vulnerable despite all that we have learned from the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women,” says FSIN Second Vice Chief Edward (Dutch) Lerat.

Sponsored content