Union of BC Indian Chiefs Renews Call for Independent Inquiry into Death of Frank Paul

February 20, 2007
(Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, February 20, 2007) “The Union of BC Indian Chiefs strongly urges Wally Oppal, BC’s Attorney General, to immediately convene an independent public inquiry into the death of Frank Joseph Paul,” stated Grand Chief Stewart Phillip.

Grand Chief Phillip responded today to recent media reports where Greg Firlotte, a Corrections Officer who was on duty the night Frank Paul died, has come forward with new information about that night in December 1998. Frank Paul died of exposure after being dragged out of the police station and into a police van.

“The officers swore a duty to protect all citizens. I believe Mr. Firlotte is courageously speaking out because it is the right thing to do. The Vancouver Police Department must be held accountable. Mr. Firlotte’s statement that the VPD did not interview him either suggests a gross oversight or a deliberate cover-up attempt to protect the VPD,” said Grand Chief Phillip. “The UBCIC fully supports the Police Complaints Commissioner’s recommendation in 2003 for a public inquiry as the official explanation and discipline of the officers involved suggests that Frank Paul’s death was quickly brushed aside.”

“It appears that the death of Frank Paul is a case that would greatly benefit from Justice Josiah Wood’s recent review of the police complaints process in BC, where he made excellent recommendations for change such as requiring officers to cooperate with misconduct investigations, empower the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner to direct police to take any investigative steps it believes necessary and requiring all investigation of deaths in custody to be handled by an outside police agency.”

Grand Chief Phillip concluded “The UBCIC strongly believe the circumstances surrounding Mr. Paul’s death warrants an inquiry under the Inquiries Act in order that the concerns of his family, the aboriginal community and those directly involved may be fully addressed. First Nations continue to express our grave and growing concerns about police conduct in cases where First Nations people die in police custody. Rather than setting out to disprove or dismiss allegations, police are expected to conduct a full, fair and just investigation.”

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Chief Stewart Phillip
(604) 684-0231