Families call for change, public inquiry as inquest into police deaths in Winnipeg continues

At the Winnipeg courthouse Monday, family and supporters called for a public inquiry as an inquest into five deaths following Winnipeg police interactions continues. Morgan Modjeski reports.

Calling for change and accountability, family members and supporters of those affected by police use of force gathered outside the Winnipeg courthouse Monday in solidarity with five families trying to get answers about their loved ones’ deaths following police interactions here in the city.

“The delays that we’ve had because of COVID and the way the world has been over the last few years, have been a major disservice to the people who have been taken from us. To our families who are left behind, the children who are left behind, and the broader community,” said Emily Bagot-Siden, whose cousin Michael Bagot, is one of five men whose death, following a police interaction in Winnipeg is now being examined by an ongoing inquest.

The deaths of Bagot, Patrick Gagnon, Sean Thompson, and Matthew Fosseneuve are already under the microscope, and the fifth and final death in the inquest of Randy Cochrane is set to be examined in the coming days.

Emily Bagot-Sideen, alongside William and Cheyenne Hudson, can be seen at a demonstration in support of those affected by police use of force on Nov. 20, 2023. (Photo Credit: Morgan Modjeski, CityNews)

So far, the courts have heard all four men — while agitated and distressed — were looking for assistance in some of their final moments.

“We’re not here for just remembrance, but for a call to action as well. What happened to all these people is not fair, it speaks to a greater crisis in our city that we’re not talking about,” said Bagot-Siden.

A group of roughly 30 people gathered for a demonstration, and among the speakers was William Hudson, the father of 16-year-old Eishia Hudson, who was shot by a member of the WPS during a volatile car chase in 2020, spurring outcry from many.

“The only way we’re going to get justice is if we get a public inquiry,” said Hudson.

Family members and supporters of those affected by police use of force gather outside of the Winnipeg courthouse on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. (Photo Credit: Morgan Modjeski, CityNews)

Hudson says in the new year, they’ll go through the inquest process as well but stresses all levels of government must commit to examining why people continue to die following interactions with police in the city.

“Federal, provincial, all levels, we’re calling for a public inquiry. Not only for Eishia, but for the families that are here today, and that should be our main goal is pushing for the public inquiry for the families and also, a change for the IIU.” 

Inside the courtroom, the inquest continued, but Winnipeg Police Cause Harm representative James Wilt said the fact so many families are finding themselves looking for answers following a loss speaks to a larger problem. 

“This is just continuing to happen again and again, and the problem is obvious, that police are responding to crisis situations that they should not be responding to,” said Wilt.

The inquest continues later this month. 

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