An independent investigation into the conduct of Prince Albert police officers around the death of a toddler says the officers were negligent in their duties.

In February 2022, Tanner Brass was allegedly killed by his father hours after police officers attended the home and took Tanner’s mother into custody following a family dispute.  Hours later officers were called back to the home where Tanner had been killed.

Days after Tanners death both the FSIN and PAGC put out a joint statement calling for these types of investigations and an overhaul of the Prince Albert Police Service calling out what they viewed as systemic racism within the service.

The Public Complaints Commission says shortly after Tanner’s death they received a request from the Prince Albert Police Service to investigate the situation.

The Commission is a five-person, non-police body appointed by the government to investigate and review complaints against municipal police services. They released their investigation on the matters surrounding the death of Tanner Brass Thursday morning.

“We appreciate the cooperation of the family of Tanner Brass and the Prince Albert Police Service throughout our investigation into this tragic death,” Public Complaints Commission Chair Michelle Ouellette said in a media release. “The Public Complaints Commission found neglect of duty by officers of the Prince Albert Police Service in its investigation, and has submitted its findings to the Chief to impose appropriate discipline.”

Report offers more details about what happened that day – conflicting previous reports, but still finding neglect of duty

The report details information about what happened the day Tanner was killed. According to the report from the PCC, Tanner’s mother had called 911 to report she was assaulted by Kaij Brass and during this call raised concerns about Tanner’s safety.

The PCC report says in their investigation, however, they did not find any evidence that Tanner’s mother raised concerns about Tanners safety while she was attending with Prince Albert police officers to the detachment.   Officers say they were trying to find her a warm place to stay while she awaited for a ride from La Ronge to pick her up along with Tanner.  According to the PCC report, officers had to declare Tanner’s mother as intoxicated to bring her to the cells for a warm place to stay during the winter, as PAPS has no policy for lodging sober and consenting people to cells.

The public complaints commission says reports that Tanner’s mother repeatedly told officers that Tanner was in danger and that she was ignored were unfounded and she went to the detachment willingly.

However, the PCC report called the situation a “tragic and potentially avoidable incident.”

The commission report says Tanner Brass was vulnerable and in danger while inside the residence with Kaij Brass. It says while Tanner’s mother never raised concerns directly to the officers regarding Tanners safety, they should have asked considering she did raise those concerns during the 911 call. The conclusions of the report states that the officers should have entered the home to ensure the safety of Tanner Brass and were incorrect in their belief that they needed a warrant or permission from Kaij Brass to enter the home. The report also says the officers failed to follow intimate partner violence policy from PAPS which calls on officers to “ensure the immediate safety of the complainant and any children who may be present.”

The report also says the officers failed in requesting additional assistance, did not take a statement regarding the alleged assault, nor did they properly obtain information on Kaij Brass’s level of intoxication and whether he was safe to be alone with Tanner Brass.

“The totality of the circumstances demonstrates a series of compounded failures by (the officers) when they had a legal duty to investigate the 911 call… this was neglect of duty by (both officers)… in failing to conduct a proper investigation of a domestic violence situation despite the presence of a vulnerable and unprotected infant,” the report read, which can be found here – PCC Public Report.

FSIN says officers need to be held accountable

On Thursday afternoon, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations put out a statement saying they are still calling for a coroners inquest into Tanner Brass’s death, intervention from the Ministry of Corrections and Public Safety, and criminal accountability for the officers involved.

“The PAPS has failed to serve our First Nations people, especially our most vulnerable,” said FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron in the statement. “Though we demand that the officers be held criminally accountable for their failure to prevent the death of Baby Tanner, systemic racism and neglect must be addressed from the top down.”

The FSIN has scheduled a press conference for Friday morning to further speak on the report.

The report from the PCC comes weeks after the provincial government chose to not publicly discuss the results of a report into the operations of the Prince Albert Police Service. The ministry had tasked former Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht with examining challenges, needs, relationships and operations of policing in Prince Albert.

The report was completed and given to the province in April.

Corrections and Policing Minister Christine Tell says she was considering releasing the report, but that has yet to happen. Tell did say the report contained several themes and recommendations.

In the meantime, Kaij Brass is awaiting a trial for the second-degree murder of 14-month-old Tanner Brass. The trial is scheduled for February 2024.

(With files from Dan Jones)