Supreme Court to Hear O.P.P. Appeal Against Justice for Levi

By Zach Ruiter

Justice for Levi is a collation dedicated to the memory of Levi Schaeffer. The coalition had successfully challenged the Ontario Police at the Ontario Superior Court. The court ruled the conduct of police who shot and killed Schaeffer violated the Police Services Act. The Ontario Police have successfully appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada, which is expected to hear the case sometime in December 2012.

The officers in question, Kris Wood and Mark Pullbrook collaborated with police lawyer Andrew McKay to write/fabricate their notes. This allowed the officers to get their stories straight before submitting them to the Special Investigations Unit.

The coalition Justice for Levi hosted an event at the Peterborough Library on January 31st to release a 15-minute video presentation detailing their struggle. (Justice for Levi Video, We Want Justice For Our Communities Not Police Impunity.")

The video presents a simple yet compelling graphic narrative in black and white. It communicates the reluctance of the Ontario Police to be accountable to the families of those they kill. As an example, the video details how police requested a portion of $92,000 in legal costs from the Schaeffer family.

According to Kenny Hone, a Justice for Levi spokesperson, “the 3000 person strong O.P.P. with millions of dollars at their disposal are trying to crush poor families who are only seeking justice”.

“I worked very hard to save money for my son and provide myself with a future, and of course that is now gone and I consider that money well spent” said Ruth Schaeffer, Levi’s mother, who credited the support of the coalition and community for making the Justice for Levi struggle even possible.

Adding to the grief suffered by the families of those killed by police in Ontario, Rachelle Sauve, an organizer with Justice for Levi explains “its that secondary grievance of not knowing what the heck happened... that idea that the families, after losing someone because police are involved, are nearly criminalized themselves, or to say the least not given the finer touches of victim services”.

“The police killed my son and they treated me with the most incredible cruelty” said Ruth to the gathering of about 50 people.

Ruth remained calm and composed as she recounted that she “wasn’t allowed to get his body back until he was decomposing” adding, “I had to deal with that when I was washing him”.

In what can be understood as intimidation on the part of the police, Ruth remembered “they sent me his last meal packed in a box with his clothing, so by the time I opened it, it was crawling, I still don’t have his I.D. back” adding, “as his mother I can’t bear the idea of anything he owned still in their possession”

The Ontario Ombudsman, Andre Marin released a report in December, “Oversight, Undermined” which names the Levi Schaeffer case as just one example of a systemic police disregard for the rights and interests of the public.

“There is no will on the part of the Attorney General to do anything about the police misconduct,” said Ruth who claims “in fact a memo was found by the Ombudsman in the Attorney General’s office building that said ‘we will not be doing anything about this due to the power of the police lobby’ ”.

Levi Schaeffer can no longer speak but with growing intensity and numbers of people, the Coalition Justice for Levi is embarking on a precedent setting battle destined to arrive at the Supreme Court of Canada where they plan to make the case that “justice for Levi is justice for us all.”

Republished from the Toronto Media Co-op

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