Stacy DeBungee: Six-Year Anniversary and the Launch of a Criminal Investigation
October 19, 2021
Today marks the six-year anniversary from the date the body of Rainy River First Nations member Stacy DeBungee was found in the McIntyre River in Thunder Bay. Coinciding with today’s date, the Ontario Provincial Police have announced the launch of a criminal investigation into the death of Stacy DeBungee. A dedicated tip line, 1-833-533-8477, has been established for members of the public to provide information to investigators.
Stacy’s family believed from the get-go that the circumstances surrounding Stacy’s death were suspicious — yet they never got the thorough death investigation that they and Stacy deserved. The Thunder Bay Police Service treated Stacy’s death as unremarkable, pushing the racist theory that Stacy got drunk and rolled down the riverbank into the water, with “no foul play” suspected. Thunder Bay police officers reached this conclusion before receiving Stacy’s autopsy results, and they did not revisit the theory of the case when presented with information that should have raised alarm and suspicion about how Stacy died.
Stacy’s siblings, Brad DeBungee, Candace DeBungee, and Treasa DeBungie, all hope that this investigation will be thorough and competent and that it will finally provide them with long-awaited answers about what happened to their brother. The way the Thunder Bay Police Service treated the investigation into Stacy’s death was unacceptable. This reality came to public light only after Brad DeBungee and former chief of Rainy River First Nations, Jim Leonard, filed complaints with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) and the OIPRD conducted two investigations: one focused on the actions of individual officers involved in the investigation into Stacy’s death, and one looked into and substantiated systemic racism within the Thunder Bay Police Service more broadly. More details relating to the OIPRD investigations and its findings can be found at the links below.
It is thanks to recommendations of the OIPRD that Stacy’s death is finally being reinvestigated. While the reinvestigation was initially assigned to a body over which the Chief of the Thunder Bay Police Service exercised oversight authority, the investigation is now finally being investigated independent of the Thunder Bay Police Service thanks to a decision of the Ministry of the Attorney General.
Falconers LLP has the honour of representing Stacy’s siblings and has immense respect for their tireless search for accountability and answers. We hope that the OPP’s criminal investigation will provide them with long-awaited answers about what happened to Stacy.
Media Regarding OPP’s Announcement of Launch of Criminal Investigation
Related Posts on the OIPRD Complaints and Findings (Individual Conduct and Systemic)
https://falconers.ca/casestudy/stacy-debungee/ (June 20, 2016)
Related Posts About the Reinvestigation
https://falconers.ca/independent-reinvestigation-demanded-by-indigenous-families-due-to-the-systemic-failures-of-the-tbps-to-adequately-investigate-the-deaths-of-indigenous-victims/ (June 8, 2021)
https://falconers.ca/watch-here-livestream-archived-of-thunder-bay-press-conference-re-implementation-of-broken-trust-report-and-independent-reinvestigations-into-deaths-of-indigenous-persons-june-8-2021/ (June 8, 2021)
Related Post About PSA Disciplinary Proceedings
https://falconers.ca/stacy-debungee-death-investigation-disciplinary-proceedings-commence-against-thunder-bay-officers/ (April 13, 2021)
Related Posts About Adjudicator Lee Ferrier’s Decision and Related Hearing
https://falconers.ca/public-proceeding-of-the-thunder-bay-police-services-board-will-determine-whether-officers-involved-in-the-investigation-into-the-death-of-stacy-debungee-will-face-disciplinary-proceedings/ (February 5, 2021)
Related Posts on the Fight Against a Secret Hearings
https://falconers.ca/superior-court-judge-halts-secret-hearing/ (October 4, 2018)