Four years after police in Summerside, PEI fatally shot and killed a man who fled from them into a dark basement after committing a crime, his family is still looking some answers.
Jeremy Stephens was no angel. He had a lengthy criminal record at the time of his death at 32, imprisoned primarily for break and enters, but also for drug-related offenses and assault. And his family say he had struggled with mental health and substance abuse since he was a boy.
But on the face of it, there was no reason for the police to follow him into the basement that night. No one else was threatened, according to an independent report on the incident. There was no evidence that Stephens had a gun. The family suggests officers could have waited for him or found a non-lethal way to incapacitate him in the confined space.
Could his death have been avoided? Legal experts and family members think so. And they think a coroner’s inquest could look into ways to prevent future deaths.
Click here for the written version of part 1: The path that took Jeremy Stephens from a childhood of loving animals and helping around the house to a dark basement in Summerside. It was there that he suffered fatal injuries early one morning in May 2018, during a planned power outage affecting the entire city. WARNING: This story contains disturbing details and cellphone video of the basement where the fatal shooting took place.
Click here for the written version of part 2: What happened in the basement, according to a report from Nova Scotia’s Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT). It was based on interviews with police officers, search warrants and third-party tapes – but not on police tapes from the crucial period, as they would have been lost during the citywide blackout. WARNING: This story contains disturbing detail and coarse language, as well as an animated recreation of the whereabouts of the parties as filming took place.
Click here for the written version of part 3: Without waiting for an ambulance that was too far away, Summerside police officers drove the injured man 3.6 kilometers to Prince County Hospital in the back of a police cruiser. There, medical workers are said to be struggling with equipment problems and a lack of information from police as they try – and fail – to keep Stephens alive. WARNING: This story contains disturbing details and an animated graphic showing where Jeremy Stephens was injured, according to the autopsy report.
Click here for the written version of part 4: Within months, an independent police oversight investigation absolved Summerside police of any wrongdoing. Elsewhere in Canada, if the police are involved in the death of a suspect, a coroner’s inquest would still be required despite such findings. Legal experts say a SIRT report only answers a question about liability — not avoidability.