Statement regarding Crown review of investigation into death of Rodney Levi
26 January 2021
FREDERICTON (GNB) – The following statement was issued today by Public Prosecutions Services, Office of the Attorney General:
The Crown has completed its review of the report from the Bureau des Enquêtes indépendantes du Québec (BEI) of its investigation following the death of Rodney Levi of Metepenagiag First Nation. Mr. Levi died following an RCMP intervention that took place at a residence in Sunny Corner on June 12, 2020.
The purpose of the Crown’s review was to determine, according to Public Prosecution Services’ policies and the law, if criminal charges are warranted against the peace officers involved in the shooting.
The evidence gathered by BEI and contained in its report included statements from the witnesses to the event, a short video taken by one of the witnesses that shows part of the actual event, statements from other material witnesses, and expert reports.
According to Policy 11 of the Public Prosecutions Operational Manual, “the Crown Prosecutor must be satisfied that there is evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction against each alleged offender on each charge. Whether the evidence establishes a reasonable prospect of conviction is an objective determination the Crown Prosecutor makes by considering whether an impartial trier of fact properly directed in accordance with the law, is more likely than not to convict the accused on the offence charged based on the evidence available.”
Based on our review of the evidence disclosed in the report, it is clear that on the tragic evening of June 12, 2020, the peace officers on the scene did believe, on reasonable grounds, that force or a threat of force was being used against them by Mr. Levi and that one of the officers shot at Mr. Levi for the purpose of defending or protecting themselves and the civilians who were present at the residence and feared for their safety. This action followed repeated attempts to engage with Mr. Levi peacefully, and followed several applications of a taser to disarm him from the dangerous weapons (knives) he refused to yield.
Subsection 25(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada states that:
“Every one who is required or authorized by law to do anything in the administration or enforcement of the law
(a) as a private person,
(b) as a peace officer or public officer,
(c) in aid of a peace officer or public officer, or
(d) by virtue of his office,
is, if he acts on reasonable grounds, justified in doing what he is required or authorized to do and in using as much force as is necessary for that purpose.”
In our opinion, the peace officers in question were acting lawfully to protect the residents of the home on that fateful evening.
The evidence presented to Public Prosecutions Services does not establish a reasonable prospect of conviction, and therefore, we will not proceed with criminal charges against the peace officers. Having concluded our review, we have decided to make publicly available the legal opinion prepared by the Crown on this matter. While this is not our normal practice, due to the national public interest in this matter, we have made an exception to share this review.
This decision does not diminish the tragedy of the event. The loss of Rodney Levi is a pain shared by members of the Metepenagiag First Nation and residents of neighbouring communities that cared about him. We offer our sympathies to his loved ones and those who continue to feel his loss.
New Brunswick’s Office of the Chief Coroner has committed to an inquest into Mr. Levi’s death. This is a public process that will review the evidence related to his death, including witness testimony, and make recommendations aimed at preventing deaths under similar circumstances in the future.
Public Prosecution Services is independent in its role in the administration of justice in New Brunswick and does not act on direction from government, police or any other entity in the discharge of its responsibilities.
Communications, Office of the Attorney General, 506-453-2994.