Family of Eishia Hudson files civil claim for wrongful death against Winnipeg police

The family of Eishia Hudson, the 16-year-old girl who was shot and killed by a Winnipeg police officer, has filed a civil claim for wrongful death and neglect in the April 2020 death.

Cochrane Saxberg Barristers and Solicitors announced the civil claim in a news release on Wednesday, saying the unnamed officers who drew their weapons are named as defendants for “acts of recklessness, carelessness, and negligence.” Chief of Policy Danny Smyth is also named for “failing to adequately address the problem of systemic racism in the Winnipeg Police Service,” according to the law firm.

“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, Eishia’s father, in the news release.

“We are all on the search for justice. The police must be held accountable. If Eishia wasn’t recognized as being Indigenous by the police officer, she might still be alive today.”

Hudson was shot by a police officer on April 8 after an incident at a Liquor Mart.

Winnipeg police officers said they were called to a store in Sage Creek following reports that multiple suspects allegedly stole alcohol and left in an SUV.

Officers said the suspects, who they allege were driving a stolen SUV, attempted to escape police, which led to a chase that ended at Lagimodiere Boulevard and Fermor Avenue where an officer fired his gun two times at the driver.

The driver – later identified as Hudson – was taken to the hospital where she died.

Cochrane Saxberg notes that the civil claim emphasizes the fact that the officer who shot Hudson identified her as a “teenage Indigenous male” before firing the weapon.

“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 Hudson family.

“This claim cannot ignore the alarming numbers that threaten the lives of Indigenous people.”

In January, Manitoba’s police watchdog determined the officer who fatally killed Hudson would not face any charges.

The law firm noted an inquest into her death is pending but is statutorily limited from assigning blame to any 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,” said 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.”

Cochrane Saxberg said the civil claim relies on ‘The Fatal Accidents Act,’ which allows families to file a claim and recover damages if a death was caused by a wrongful act or neglect.

In a statement, the Winnipeg Police Service said it has not yet been served, but since the matter is presumably before the courts, it doesn’t have a comment at this time.

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