Police Attack on Stoney Pointers: 1996

The Police Attack on Stoney Pointers: news from 1996


Jul 11/96 - Police claim hidden armored vehicle was "ambulance"
Jul 24/96 - Police officer charged in shooting
Jul 25/96 - Police chief breaks 10-month silence
Jul 26/96 - Race for life failed to save Dudley George

[SISIS note: The following mainstream news articles are provided for reference only. They may contain biased and distorted information and may be missing pertinent facts and/or context.]


'No one was supposed to know'

By Peter Edwards and Harold Levy
Staff Reporters
The Toronto Star, Thursday, July 11, 1996

The Ontario Provincial Police [OPP] hid an armored personnel carrier in a barn about a 15-minute drive from where Indians occupied Ipperwash Provincial Park last fall, The Star has learned.

"No one was supposed to know," said Carl DeShutter, president of the Forest and District Agricultural Society. Its barn housed the troop carrier.

The carrier was rushed there the night after Indian protester Anthony (Dudley) George was shot dead by the OPP on Sept 6, OPP spokesperson Sergeant Terry Blace said.

Blace said the troop carrier's purpose was to serve as an ambulance. However, Blace said he was not aware of any modifications to the vehicle to make it function as an ambulance.

"It was there specifically for that purpose - the removal of injured parties."

"It was not there to be used for - or intended to be used for - the forcible removal of the occupants of the park," Blace said.

Solicitor-General Bob Runciman, under heavy questioning in the Legislature last May, said he made a request to the military for personnel carriers on Sept. 7.

However, Runciman made no mention of the vehicle that was hidden from the Forest fairgrounds on Sept. 7, and which was obtained from the London, Ont., police department.

Neither the London police vehicle nor military vehicles were ever used at Ipperwash.

Blace told The Star that Runciman was not told of the decision to get the London police force vehicle.

"It is deemed an operational matter for the OPP," he said.

Runciman could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Blace said he could not comment on why the OPP had felt the need to hide a vehicle that would be used as an ambulance.

The troop carrier, he said, was to evacuate people from "escalating violence that was occurring at that scene."

However, OPP press statements from that time make no mention of any violence after the confrontation between more than 250 OPP officers and about 35 Indians on Sept. 6, when George was shot dead.

Chris Coles, now retired OPP chief superintendent, has told The Star that a "decision was made to confront" the Indians after about 20 protesters occupied empty Ipperwash Park on Sept. 4 at the end of the tourist season. The Indians maintain the park was built on a sacred burial ground.

On the night George was killed, two other Indians were wounded by gunfire and another Indian was severely beaten.

DeShutter said the 10-tonne, 6.45-metre-long carrier was "supposed to come in quiet," but it was too loud to escape notice as it rumbled down a gravel road on the agricultural society's fairgrounds.

In an effort to hide it, paper was placed over the windows of the barn, and gray-uniformed police were constantly on guard inside the building, DeShutter said.


Family of protester shot during standoff at provincial park demands judicial inquiry into the incident

By James Rusk
Queen's Park Bureau, The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, July 24, 1996, A1

TORONTO -- An Ontario Provincial Police officer was charged yesterday with criminal negligence causing death in connection with the shooting of a native protester at Ipperwash Provincial Park last September.

But the family of Dudley George still demand a judicial inquiry into the events surrounding the incident.

"Something terribly wrong happened last Sept. 6 when my brother was shot," Carolyn George told a Queen's Park news conference yesterday. She said there are a number of questions about Ipperwash that will not be answered by a criminal trial, and a public inquiry must be held, "as soon as the criminal process allows....Nothing else will do."

Even though a probe of the shooting by the Special Investigations Unit is finished, the government would not consider an inquiry until all criminal and civil proceedings related to Ipperwash are complete, said Jim Middlemiss, spokesman for Attorney-General Charles Harnick.

The charged OPP officer is Kenneth Deane, an acting sergeant who was second-in-command of the provincial force's Tactics and Rescue Unit at Ipperwash. The charge followed a 10-month investigation by the SIU, a branch of the Attorney-General's Ministry.

Mr. George was killed during a clash between about 50 OPP officers and native protesters who were occupying the park after it closed for the season. The protesters claimed Ontario ignored information about a burial ground when the Lake Huron park was created in the 1960s.

James Stewart, SIU director, said in a statement yesterday that he has "an honest belief on reasonable grounds" that Sgt. Deane committed a criminal offence at Ipperwash. Mr. Stewart and the SIU's chief investigator met the George family and their lawyers for an hour and a half yesterday.

Delia Opekokew, one of the family's lawyers, said they had been told that the charge related to the discharge of a firearm. "I think that it [the firearm referred to in the charge] may be the one that shot Dudley. That's my speculation."

A complaint against Sgt. Deane was filed yesterday in the Ontario Court's Provincial Division in Sarnia. He is scheduled to appear for a hearing on Aug. 13. The details of the complaint will not be made public until then.

The OPP made no comment on the charge, but the force's chief commissioner, Thomas O'Grady, will hold a news conference in London today to discuss the events at Ipperwash.

In a two-page statement yesterday, the SIU reviewed the events surrounding the confrontation in which Mr. George was killed. Bernard George, another protester, was seriously injured while being arrested, and a 16-year old native youth was injured while driving a school bus.

The SIU said Bernard George's beating resulted from a confrontation with OPP officers, but the investigation of that beating was "frustrated by the fact that no one can identify the officers involved."

Andrew Orkin, another George family lawyer, said the OPP officers who were at Ipperwash were "very tight" with SIU investigators, and that if they had co-operated with the SIU, there would have been charges over Bernard George's beating.

Last week, Bernard George was acquitted of charges arising from the events. Judge Douglas Walker found that a stick he carried could have been used as protection against police.

Since the shooting, the Ontario government has been under pressure to call a judicial inquiry into the events at Ipperwash, but provincial cabinet ministers have argued that the George family and the public should wait for the [SIU] inquiry results.

Now that the SIU investigation is finished, the demands for an inquiry will return. They were repeated yesterday by Liberal spokesman Gerry Phillips and NDP spokeswoman Marion Boyd, as well as the George family and their lawyers.

Dudley George's brother, Sam George, told the news conference that since last fall a number of allegations about what happened have come to light. They were not settled by the laying of the charge.

These include the use of alcohol by the OPP at Ipperwash, the failure of the police to call ambulances for the wounded, racist slurs by police, the possible use of armoured personnel carriers by police and the involvement of senior government officials and cabinet ministers in giving police their orders.

Mr. Orkin told reporters that the government should announce an inquiry, set its terms in consultation with the family and name a commissioner, even if it has to wait until the criminal trial ends before it is held.

He said that for the government to hide behind legal proceedings resulting from the incident, while it quickly called a judicial inquiry into a riot in March at the legislature, is differential justice.

The George family have launched a $7-million civil proceeding against the province in hopes that it will lead to full disclosure of last September's events.


Government did not give procedural instructions to police during standoff at provincial park, commissioner says

by James Rusk
Queen's Park Bureau, The Globe and Mail
Thursday, July 25, 1996, A6

LONDON, Ont. -- The government did not give operational instructions to the Ontario Provincial Police before a clash that led to the death of a native protester at Ipperwash Provincial Park last fall, the head of the force said yesterday.

Breaking 10 months of silence on the Ipperwash events and the shooting of Dudley George, the OPP's chief commissioner, Thomas O'Grady, told a news conference that likewise, the force had not shared its Ipperwash operational plans with the government.

"The OPP would not risk the safety of its officers by revealing such details on any operation," Commissioner O'Grady said. "The OPP...would not seek operational direction from the Ministry of the Solicitor-General."

Mr. George was killed Sept. 6 during a clash between OPP officers and native protesters occupying the park. Earlier this week, the Special Investigative Unit of the Ministry of the Attorney-General charged an OPP acting sergeant with criminal negligence causing death after a 10-month investigation into the killing.

Commissioner O'Grady also said that although he was not privy to the evidence against Sgt. Kenneth Deane, "I am confident our officer acted in good faith in the performance of his duty."

He said that Sgt. Deane, who was second-in-command of the Tactics and Rescue Unit at Ipperwash when Mr. George was killed, would be "supported appropriately" while he awaits trial.

Sgt. Deane has not been suspended. He has been reassigned to non operational duties at full pay, the commissioner said.

"We believe that is wise, given the stress that he is obviously under, and that is a course of action we have taken previously in like situations."

The commissioner said the OPP's silence on Ipperwash has been forced while the SIU conducted its investigation, "not because we had something to hide, but because the OPP...must respect due process."

He added that yesterday's news conference was held because the OPP wanted to "set the record straight in certain areas."

One of the most crucial issues concerns the instructions the OPP received from the government prior to the confrontation.

Since the fall, both critics at Queen's Park and native leaders have argued that the clash was the result of a harder line against natives taken by the Mike Harris government, which had been in office for only 2 1/2 months at the time.

Commissioner O'Grady said the Harris government had not been informed of the OPP's tactical plans, and it made "absolutely" no change in the policy direction the OPP followed in its dealings with the natives.

"The OPP has had a policy in place for several years in dealing with situations such as the one we had encountered at Ipperwash. It is to negotiate a peaceful resolution without the use of force....It appeared to be working at Ipperwash, but unfortunately tragedy occurred on Sept. 6, 1995."

He noted that at the military base adjacent to the park, a military helicopter was fired on in August of 1993, and in July of 1995 a school bus was driven into a military jeep, pushing it back 50 feet into a drill-hall door.

These incidents, he said, gave the OPP "every reason to believe that an armed occupation of Ipperwash Provincial Park...was a very real possibility," and he has no reason to change the statement made last fall after Mr. George was killed. He said the police were under fire at the time of the killing.

After its investigation, the SIU said the OPP officers at Ipperwash were pelted with rocks, sticks and burning objects on Sept. 6. But the SIU statement made no reference to gunfire from the protesters.

The commissioner said there are other misconceptions about the Ipperwash events. One is that the police were attempting to remove protesters from the park when the clash occurred.

"At no time after the occupation began did the OPP officers ever enter Ipperwash Provincial Park grounds. At no time did the OPP ever make an effort to remove the occupiers from the grounds."

Another misconception is that, as has often been reported, 250 OPP officers were moved into the area before the shooting. Commissioner O'Grady said that 60 extra officers had been brought in, and that because they worked in 12-hour shifts, only abut 30 were on duty at a time.

The extra officers were called in from across the province after the shooting and they started to return to their home areas on Sept. 12, he said.

The final issue addressed by the commissioner was a request from the OPP to the military for bulletproof vests, night-vision binoculars, gas masks and an armoured personnel carrier, which he said were defensive only.

While this equipment was never used, he said "we had to be prepared for any eventuality."

He noted that the personnel carrier would have been used to remove OPP officers or members of the public, and that it was requested only after the shooting.

Commissioner O'Grady also told the news conference that the OPP had no vested interest in removing the occupiers. He said, "as long as outstanding land claims continue, the level of frustration for all involved will continue to increase."

To avoid the problems produced by native frustration, he said the federal government, which is responsible for all natives, must deal with the frustration at its roots. Ottawa and the province should work with natives to deal with issues such as land claims, he said.

When asked for his views on a possible public inquiry into events at Ipperwash, which the George family and their supporters have demanded, the commissioner said that he understood one could not be held while the criminal proceedings resulting from the incident were under way.

"I have nothing against having a public inquiry. It is not my option," he said.

Jean Koning, a London resident involved with the Aboriginal Rights Coalition, a national group that supports native land claims, said after the news conference that the commissioner left a lot of questions unanswered.

"The most important one is why anybody believes that the best way to deal with native peoples in Canada is with guns," Ms. Koning said.

Brian Atkin, president of the Ontario Provincial Police Association, which represents OPP officers, said he was disappointed with the SIU's charge against Sgt. Deane. He believes the officer will be exonerated.

"There is a process of law which we believe will show our members did act properly," he said.


Brother, sister tell of fateful night at Ipperwash

By Peter Edwards and Harold Levy
Staff Reporters
The Toronto Star, July 26, 1996, A10

IPPERWASH -- Pierre George knew he had to drive fast to save his younger brother's life.

Anthony (Dudley) George wasn't saying anything and his chest was covered with sticky, warm blood.

He was alive, but just barely. And Pierre had to get him to hospital.

It was shortly before midnight last Sept. 6 and Dudley, 38, had been hit by a bullet when seven Ontario Provincial Police officers opened fire on Indians occupying Ipperwash Provincial Park.

Pierre, 42, and his sister Carolyn, 45, looked frantically for an ambulance but couldn't see one. The situation was chaotic. Panic was everywhere.

Gina George, related to Dudley by marriage, recalls "everyone talking at once."

Indians have accused the OPP of coming to the park prepared for a confrontation without having ambulances or medical help close by in case any demonstrators were hurt.

Sergeant Doug Babbit, an OPP spokesperson, says the force cannot comment because the matter is before the courts.

The night of the shooting, two men grabbed Dudley by his arms and legs and put him into Pierre's 1977 Chevy.

"There was no time to wait for an ambulance," Gina George said. "He was like a wet rag. His arms and legs flopping like that."

Shortly after Pierre tore away from Ipperwash, one of his tires went flat.

"I almost lost the car a couple times," he recalls. "I thought, 'This can't be happening.'"

But his mind remained focussed on the closest hospital, half an hour away in Strathroy. In the back seat, with Carolyn and a teenaged helper trying to stanch the flow of blood, Dudley's heart was still beating.

At the hospital, Carolyn screamed for help. Moments later, Pierre and Carolyn were grabbed and handcuffed by police and charged with attempted murder.

By the time they were released 12 hours later, Dudley George was dead.

When Pierre sped frantically out of Ipperwash, he was sure ambulances must be on the way because of the gunfire. He reasoned that if he kept the Chevy on the highway, he might see one and be able to flag it down.

"I figured, if anything, I'll catch them on the highways," he says now.

In the back seat, the 16-year-old helper kept pressure on the wound on Dudley's chest. Unknown to them, blood was pouring from his body through a gaping wound in his back.

Pierre, fighting to keep his car on the road because of the punctured tire, saw lights from a stranger's house. He swerved into the laneway and ran to the house begging for help.

The couple, shocked by the horror unfolding before them, immediately called 911. But Pierre panicked. He couldn't wait any longer and sped off again.

Local ambulance records show a frantic telephone call was made at 11:27 that night from a house on Nabo Rd. The occupants described how a man and a woman in a white car with a flat tire had come in looking for help.

The caller told the dispatcher he did not notice any weapons on them.

Another call came from the house at 11:31 p.m. saying the man and woman had left and that the resident didn't know in which direction they were heading.

An ambulance was dispatched in hopes of catching the car with the flat tire.

Pierre and Carolyn George aren't sure exactly when they got to the Strathroy Hospital.

Carolyn shouted for someone to hurry up with a stretcher.

"My arm was grabbed, and I said, 'I want to see my brother.' I tried to pull away. The next thing I know, I looked up and I saw Pierre, his face against a wall."

Pierre says he tried to explain to police that the bleeding man was his brother and that he was trying to save him.

They were told they were under arrest for attempted murder.

"I said, 'Who am I supposed to have murdered?' He said, 'They just told us to hold you.'"

Pierre and Carolyn spent the night in the Strathroy OPP jail.

Pierre says he tried banging on the walls of the jail to establish contact with Carolyn, but she never heard him.

He says he asked a guard in the jail to tell him how Dudley was, but got no answer.

It was late the next afternoon when they were released from jail and charges were dropped.

Police that night said shots came at them from inside Ipperwash Park from a white car. Carolyn and Pierre had arrived at the hospital in a white car.

A public statement issued by police the day after the shooting said shots were fired at police from a school bus.

A report by the province's special investigations unit, after a 10 month investigation, could not conclude whether the Indians fired at all.

The report did find that Dudley George was not on or beside the bus where police said gunfire originated.

Last winter, Pierre checked himself into a native healing lodge in Monsonee to help him cope with that night.

It helped, but the pain hasn't gone away.

"I still have hard days, hard days for my brother."

Pierre, a sign maker, has painted a sign to honor his brother, but he keeps it in a garage on the former military base at Ipperwash, a couple of metres from the white Chevy that carried Dudley to hospital.

Pierre says he planned to put it up near where Dudley was shot, but changed his mind when someone painted "Dudley was a dud" on rocks nearby.

He says it helps him deal with his depression and bitterness to think of the white strangers who tried to help out on Nabo Rd.

Last winter, he went back to their home and told them how much his family appreciated their help.

Meanwhile, Carolyn wonders if she'll be able to return to her job as a school janitor in Forest next month.

She said she left it last winter when she became overwhelmed with fear about going into the largely white community.

Ugly thoughts still haunt Pierre and Carolyn. Could they have saved Dudley? What was he feeling during his final ride? Couldn't police have helped?

Both believe Dudley's medical records would help them with some of the questions, but they have been denied access to them.

According to Dr. James Cairns, deputy chief coroner for Ontario, the medical records couldn't be released while the death was under investigation by the SIU.

Now that probe is over, the family can't see autopsy results because criminal charges have been laid against an OPP officer, Cairns said.

OPP acting sergeant Kenneth Deane has been charged with criminal negligence causing death in George's death.

Carolyn George isn't interested in legal arguments. She just wants to understand what happened the night of Sept. 6.

"There could have been a lot more done to help," she said.

"They could have brought a stretcher out there. But what really bothers me is, if Dudley was dying, why wouldn't they let me be beside him until his last breath?"

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