Not checking on child was `despicable': FSIN chief
Lawyer calls for officers to resign and for significant changes in police service
One day after the release of a report into the death of 13-month-old Tanner Brass in Prince Albert, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) says the baby's mother and her loved ones are still looking for answers — and for justice.
In February 2022, Tanner's mother, Kyla Frenchman, called 911 after the boy's father, Kaij Brass, allegedly assaulted her. She told the operator that Brass had previously abused Tanner and she was afraid for her son's safety.
When two Prince Albert city police officers responded to the home, they took Frenchman to the police detention centre without checking on the child.
Tanner was found dead later that morning after Brass called police and told them he had killed the boy. Brass has been charged with second-degree murder.
“What happened ... is a travesty,” said Frenchman's lawyer, Eleanore Sunchild. “It is yet another miscarriage of justice in this province and in this country. Kyla was the victim of domestic violence, and her baby Tanner was left with her partner, who had assaulted her that night. She was scared for her life. It was the middle of winter, and she is a young, vulnerable Indigenous woman . ...
“The Prince Albert Police Service had a duty to protect Kyla and her child Tanner. They failed Kyla — an Indigenous woman — and her child. Miserably.”
In a report released Thursday, Saskatchewan's Public Complaints Commission found that the two officers who responded to Frenchman's
911 call — who have been on paid administrative leave during the investigation — failed to enter the home to check on the baby's welfare, and didn't know they were able to do so without a warrant under the circumstances.
FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron said it would have taken only seconds for the officers to check on Tanner and make sure he was safe. That they did not was “a despicable thing to do,” he said.
“Those officers that were in charge that night, 19 seconds is all they had to take to go and save that young baby.”
Shortly after the Public Complaints Commission report became public, Prince Albert's police chief, Jonathan Bergen, resigned from his position.
Sunchild said the report shows “significant changes” are needed at all levels of the Prince Albert Police Service.
“There should never be officers that go to calls — including domestic disturbance calls involving children — who do not know the law or the authority that they hold,” said Sunchild.
“When attending these types of calls, these officers should know the law. How can an organization like the Prince Albert Police Service protect and serve, and not know the law?
“How does a police service — and the entire chain of command — send officers out to serve and protect with confidence, when those officers don't understand their authority or their roles when they get to those calls?”
While the decision on any consequences the officers will face now lies with the police service, Sunchild said the officers should resign or be fired.
“We are definitely calling for the dismissal of the officers who were involved on the scene that night,” she said. “The police chief resigned. So should the officers involved.”
Sunchild said Frenchman continues to explore future legal action against the police force.