Kakegamic family files civil suit against Kenora Police Services and officers

NAN press release - 4/12/2007

Kakegamics Launch Last Resort Civil Suit

Parents of murdered North Spirit Lake man Max Kakegamic appeared before the Kenora Police Services Board April 11th to discuss the city's police services' failure to conclude the murder investigation that's been stayed since three officers were charged with misconduct in 2004.

Launching a civil lawsuit against Kenora Police Services is Margaret and Isaac Kakegamic's last resort to find justice in the death of their son.

North Spirit Lake First Nation community member Max Kakegamic was killed on the streets of Kenora, ON October 4, 2000. When the case went to trial January 2004, charges against the only suspect were stayed because of irregularities in the investigation. Kenora Police Service (KPS) officers Lloyd White, Tom Favreau, and Chris Ratchford were cited for police misconduct in a February 2004 ruling by Superior Court Justice Peter Hambly.

KPS confirmed with NAN shortly after the 2004 judgment the investigation into the death of Max Kakegamic would not proceed.

In January 2007 Ontario’s Chief Coroner denied the family’s request to hold an inquest.

Julian Falconer is legal counsel representing the family

Posted by: Communications and Media jyoung@nan.on.ca.


From Kenora Miner and News ...

Kakegamic family files $9.9-million lawsuit

By Dan Gauthier - Miner and News - Thursday April 12, 2007

The Kenora Police Service is facing yet another lawsuit related to the unsolved October 2000 murder of Max Kakegamic in Kenora, this time from the victim’s family.

Following a deputation to the Kenora Police Services Board Wednesday at city hall, criticizing the board for a lack of action against those responsible for the botched investigation into Kakegamic’s murder, Toronto lawyer Julian Falconer announced the family had filed a civil suit in Toronto on Tuesday, seeking $9.9 million in damages.

There is already a $5-million civil lawsuit against the board and several Kenora Police officers, filed by the former suspect in the murder, Justin Carambetsos, and his parents in 2005, citing malicious prosecution and a breach of Charter rights.

Charges of manslaughter against Carambetsos were stayed in February 2004 by Justice Peter Hambly, who cited police misconduct during the investigation for his ruling.

Max Kakegamic was found dead at the corner of Third Street South and Matheson Street in Kenora on Oct. 4, 2000. An autopsy determined that the 28-year-old had bled to death after a blow to the neck.

The plaintiffs in the family’s lawsuit include Max’s parents Margaret and Isaac Kakegamic (Kakekagumick), his widow and child, as well as several brothers and sisters, most of who are from North Spirit Lake First Nation.

The defendants named are Kenora Police officers Tom Favreau, Lloyd White, Chris Ratchford, former chief George Curtis and the Kenora Police Services Board.

Falconer said the suit sues for negligent investigation by the Kenora Police, as well as differential or discriminatory policing for aboriginals versus non-aboriginals.

“It’s a systemic failing within the system,” said Falconer.

“A systemic failing that leaves aboriginal communities receiving a different level of policing than the rest of the communities.”

Falconer said the suit isn’t about how much money the Kakekagumick family can get, it’s about trying to get some accountability and some answers as to why the murderer of their son was not found.

Falconer noted that the family was denied an inquest by the Chief Coroner of Ontario in January, the key officer in the investigation -- Favreau -- retired before his hearing late last year, and Carambetsos’ trial was stayed in 2004.

“This lawsuit has been started because all other remedies, all other channels, have failed,” said Falconer.

He also claimed the Kenora Police Services Board was aware of the systemic racism against aboriginals in the local police service, and should have taken steps to address it.

“And they may well be legally obligated to,” said Falconer, who cited a Supreme Court of Canada ruling to support his position.

“They certainly are morally.”

Although several parties were named in the suit, the family’s concern focused on the lack of disciplinary action against Favreau, the lead investigator.

Falconer said Favreau was in charge of a case that “went not just sideways, it absolutely tanked.”

He noted how Favreau was removed from the case, but was never disciplined, as he elected to retire the day before his disciplinary hearing was finally set to be heard.

“There is a serious flaw in how this matter unfolded,” said Falconer.

He questioned the Kenora Police Services Board why it took five years to bring Favreau before a disciplinary hearing, if he was allowed to collect a salary and continue his duties during that time, and why he could retire before the hearing with no consequences regarding his misconduct.

“Sgt. Favreau should have been brought and made accountable,” said Falconer. “This should not have unfolded the way it did.”

Max’s mother, Margaret Kakegamic, also addressed the police services board on Wednesday, with a portrait of her son displayed on a seat next to her.

She said she found it hard to believe that after five years nothing was done to Favreau, even though his misconduct had been brought to the board back in 2001. She also questioned why no one ever officially acknowledged the wrongdoings that took place in her son’s murder investigation.

“I ask you the board, how can that happen? Why was there no justice for me and my family?” Kakegamic asked.

In addition to family members and supporters from the public, Treaty 3 Grand Chief Arnold Gardner and Nishnawbe-Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler attended Wednesday’s deputation in support of the Kakegamic family.

“These kinds of activities are not going to be tolerated in our territory. We’re going to do something about it,” said Gardner following the deputation, noting that Treaty 3 is organizing action groups to address racism issues in the local justice system.

Fiddler encouraged Treaty 3 and the community to continue with these initiatives to address racism issues, but added that the Kenora Police Services Board also needs to to address the “injustices of the past.”

“In our eyes, and in the eyes of many First Nation people, there is not greater injustice than what happened to Max Kakegamic and his family,” said Fiddler.

“The system has failed them at every level, at every turn, and they have no choice but to start a lawsuit.”