Treaty One Territory, Manitoba – The family of Eishia Hudson, who was 16 years old at the time of her fatal shooting by the Winnipeg Police Service, filed a civil claim for damages on behalf of their grieving family today.
The unnamed police officers who drew their weapons are named as Defendants in the claim for acts of recklessness, carelessness, and negligence that resulted in the death of Eishia. The Chief of Police Danny Smyth is also named for failing to adequately address the problem of systemic racism in the Winnipeg Police Service toward Indigenous people, drawing on the disproportionate number of Indigenous people killed by WPS since 2000.
“Eishia’s death brought us closer to families across the country who suffered the same loss of loved ones at the hands of police misuse of force,” said William Hudson, father of Eishia, who hosted a national gathering this past November in honour of BIPOC families against police violence. “We are all on the search for justice,” Hudson says, adding, “The police must be held accountable. If Eishia wasn’t recognized as being Indigenous by the police officer, she might still be alive today.” The civil claim highlights the fact that the police officer who fatally shot Eishia identified her as a “teenage Indigenous male” before firing his weapon at her from close range.
“The problem of police killing Indigenous people has only escalated since the release of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry’s Final Report,” said Danielle Morrison, co-counsel for the family. “This claim cannot ignore the alarming numbers that threaten the lives of Indigenous people”, she states, speaking to seventeen Indigenous people of the twenty-eight people killed in incidents with the police in Manitoba between 2000 and 2020. One-third of those deaths of Indigenous people happened in 2019 and 2020 alone, including the death of Eishia.
With the January 2020 release of a final report by the Independent Investigation Unit, it was publicized that Manitoba Prosecution Service would not be authorizing criminal charges against the police officers involved in Eishia’s wrongful death. The civil claim filed today will be the only legal matter before the Courts that seeks to find liability for the loss of Eishia’s life. While an Inquest into Eishia’s death is pending, it is statutorily limited from assigning blame to any of the parties involved.
“The family needs its day in Court to hold the Winnipeg Police Service accountable for what appears to be a prima facie case of excessive force resulting in the tragic death of a 16-year-old Indigenous girl,” says Kris Saxberg, co-counsel for the family. “The Inquest process does not have the scope to ascribe civil culpability. This lawsuit gives the family that opportunity.”
The Hudson family’s claim relies on The Fatal Accidents Act, C.C.S.M. c F50, which allows families of a deceased person to file a claim and recover damages where the death was caused by a wrongful act or neglect.
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For more information, please contact:
Danielle Morrison, Co-Counsel for the Hudson family
Phone: (204) 594-3510
Click here to access a PDF of the Media Release.