Edmundston, police officer say in lawsuit reply Chantel Moore caused her own death
The City of Edmundston and the police officer who shot Chantel Moore say in a court filing that her actions, and not negligence, caused her death.
Moore, 26, was shot and killed by Edmundston Police Force Const. Jeremy Son on June 4, 2020, when he was dispatched to her apartment to check on her well-being. Moore came toward Son with a knife on the balcony of the apartment, and he fired four shots, which he says were in self-defence.
Moore's estate and her mother, Martha Martin, filed the lawsuit last year alleging the city failed to adequately train its officers to safely respond to wellness checks, especially to ones where an Indigenous person is involved.
The suit also alleged Son neglected his duties and demonstrated "significant errors in judgment and analysis throughout the wellness check, leading to the death of the late Chantel Moore."
The lawsuit's claims have not been proven in court.
The city and Son filed a statement of defence Jan. 18.
"The Defendants claim Chantel Moore's death was caused by her own actions and her negligence walking toward a policeman brandishing a knife in his direction, as if she wanted to stab or cut him, and by not listening to the instructions of the defendant Son of letting go of the knife," the filing, written in French, says.
Moore's death, and the police shooting death of Rodney Levi in eastern New Brunswick only days later, sparked calls for justice by First Nations communities in New Brunswick and across Canada. They also led to calls for an inquiry into systemic racism in the New Brunswick justice system.
Lawyer T.J. Burke announced the lawsuit as a coroner's inquest into Moore's death began last year. The inquest jury ruled her manner of death was homicide.
The ruling didn't affect whether the officer would face charges. The Public Prosecutions Service of New Brunswick in 2021 determined there was no reasonable prospect of a conviction based on the evidence.
Son testified at the inquest that he climbed the outdoor stairs to the third-floor balcony outside Moore's apartment, looked in a window and saw her asleep on a sofa. He knocked several times to try to wake her.
When she got up, he said he shone a light on his uniform showing he was an officer.
He testified that within seconds, she had grabbed something metallic from a kitchen counter, opened the door and came toward him with a knife.
He testified he tried backing up on the balcony but reached a railing and couldn't back up any farther. He fired four shots.
"I didn't know how it got to that point," Son testified. "There was no reason this should have happened. I couldn't understand how it changed so drastically. It happened so quickly. There was no more reaction time."
Son didn't have the department's only functional Taser that night and the police force wasn't using body cameras at the time. Another officer with Son that night had waited in a parked vehicle.
The recent statement of defence lays out the same account.
"Fearing for his life, defendant Son discharged his firearm 4 times into the direction of Chantel Moore, until the threat was eliminated," the filing says.
"Defendants assert that Defendant Son acted reasonably at all times in the circumstances and acted in self-defence."
Seeking dismissal of case
The filing denies allegations the police department had insufficient policies, training and equipment.
The filing requests the court dismiss the case. It's unclear when that request may be dealt with by the court.
Burke did not respond to messages requesting comment.
The city declined to comment, citing the court case.