The family of a man clinging to life after being arrested by Prince Albert police say they want answers.
According to his family, Boden Umpherville, of Ahtahkakoop First Nation, is on life support with no brain activity, following an altercation with police on April 1.
The Saskatchewan Serious Incident Response Team is investigating the incident, which they described as an altercation where multiple police officers used their stun guns, batons, and pepper spray on Umpherville during his arrest.
Video of the arrest has been circulating online.
The family of Umpherville is raising concerns of excessive force.
At a press conference at the FSIN office in Saskatoon Friday morning, Boden Umpherville’s family and friends and an FSIN Vice-Chief spoke on his arrest, the aftermath, and how he remains in critical condition.
The family is saying their was a lack of communication from police agencies to them in the aftermath of this incident and that they believe this level of force should never have been used.
“It should never have happened… I don’t understand” said Verna Umpherville, Boden Umpherville’s mother.
“Hopefully my child will come back to me – I have faith… It’s just so sad” she said before she broke down emotionally.
Boden Umpherville’s brother Derry Umpherville believes the level of force used by the police was unnecessary and the officers under investigation should not be on duty. The Prince Albert Police Service confirmed to MBC News that all members of the police service under investigation will remain on-duty pending the result of the investigation.
“Why are they working today? I don’t think they should be working with the public, they have to be accountable to the public,” said Derry Umpherville. “Change needs to happen or this is going to happen to other people. You’re not supposed to be scared of the cops.”
FSIN Vice-Chief says trust in Prince Albert police “eroding”
FSIN Vice-Chief Dutch Lerat spoke on the incident as well.
“Where are the excessive force policies that allows multiple officers to use multiple stun guns on one individual,” said Lerat.
The FSIN Vice-Chief says Indigenous trust in policing in Prince Albert has been “eroded and continues to be eroded.”
“We call upon you to do the right thing… to be open, to be transparent, and to work hard to rebuild the trust of First Nations,” said Lerat when speaking to law enforcement, the third-party investigation, and provincial Safety and Policing Minister Christine Tell.
Lerat was asked about the possibility of an inquiry into the PA Police Service given several matters of concern over the past year. He says the FSIN is waiting for the results of the third party investigation into this incident before they make any official calls for an inquiry.
Boden Umpherville described as family man looking to turn his life around
Family and friends described the 40-year-old Umpherville as an incredibly kind person who tried to lift people up in his community and as someone who was trying to work as a youth worker to help lead others to a better life.
“He lived for his family,” said close friend Chase Sinclair.
“He was an uncle, he was a brother and he was trying to turn his life around,” said Derry Umpherville.
The Saskatchewan Serious Incident Response Team is investigating the matter and they say the investigation will review police conduct during the incident, including the circumstances around Umpherville’s arrest. The Prince Albert Police Service says they will fully cooperate with the investigation.
SIRT says a final report will be publicly released within 90 days of the investigation ending.
(PHOTO – Boden Umpherville’s family and friends speak to media at a press conference at the FSIN office in Saskatoon.)