Tanner Brass: Canada police force in racism row over boy’s death

Kyla Frenchman
Kyla Frenchman struggled to speak to media about her baby, who died last month (Image: FSIN)

A Canada police force has been accused of ignoring an indigenous mother’s warning about leaving her toddler with the man now charged with his death.

Tanner Brass was found dead hours after police arrested his mother, Kyla Frenchman, when she argued with them about her son’s safety, she said.

The boy’s father, Kaij Brass, has been charged with second-degree murder.

Indigenous leaders say Ms Frenchman was racially profiled and have demanded the local police chief’s resignation.

Two Canadian police officers in the city of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, have been suspended.

Police responded to reports of a domestic dispute in the early hours of 10 February and found Ms Frenchman standing outside the apartment building, she said.

Ms Frenchman told the officers she had been kicked out of her apartment and feared her 13-month-old son was in danger.

She said the officers told her to wait outside and entered the building, only to return shortly afterwards and say no-one had answered the door.

Ms Frenchman said when she demanded the officers check on Tanner, she was arrested for suspected intoxication. She denies being drunk.

Several hours later police were called back to the same home to reports of a homicide involving a child.

They found Tanner dead and Kaij Brass was arrested.

Speaking at a news conference on Friday, Kyla Frenchman struggled to speak as she demanded justice for her son. Standing with friends and relatives, she spoke of her son as a “happy baby” with a big smile.

A statement read on her behalf said she had “begged and pleaded” with police to help her and her child after they arrived at their home.

It went on: “Instead, they accused me of being drunk. They put me in handcuffs and they put me in a cell.”

A statement from the Prince Albert police department described the boy’s death as a tragedy.

It added: “As an organisation, there is nothing we can say to lessen the grief and torment at this shocking loss of a deeply loved child from our community.”

But Heather Bear, Vice-Chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, said: “If these officers showed up to a domestic dispute call involving a young white family, knowing that an infant was inside and possibly in danger, do you think they would have arrested the mother and left?”

Police have not responded to this allegation.

Earlier this month, the department’s chief, Jon Bergen, suspended the two officers involved with pay.

Last week, 95% of the union representing Prince Albert officers supported a vote of no confidence in Mr Bergen’s leadership.

Ms Frenchman said in her statement she believed Tanner would still be alive “if they had listened to me”.

An investigation into the boy’s death is ongoing.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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