Protestors marched in Winnipeg Saturday afternoon demanding accountability in the fatal police shooting of a 19-year-old at the beginning of the year.
Afolabi Opaso was shot by police on New Year’s Eve. “He was, you know, a nice young man, starting to get into adulthood, 19, a studious student. And what happened is just — they’re still really in shock at what happened.” said Jean-René Dominique Kwilu, a lawyer for Opaso’s family.
Kwilu said police should have de-escalated the situation when they were called for a wellness check on Opaso.
According to police, Opaso was armed when they arrived at his apartment on University Crescent. He was shot by an officer during that encounter.
Family seeks answers after international student fatally shot by Winnipeg police: lawyer
The investigation into the shooting is being managed by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team. It was initially being managed by the Independent Investigation Unit in Manitoba but was transferred out of province to avoid any perceived conflict of interest. The officer involved is a close relative of an employee at Manitoba Justice.
Opaso was an international student from Nigeria studying economics at the University of Manitoba.
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Titi Tijani, president of African Communities of Manitoba and one of several demonstrators the protests, said he wonders why the shooting was necessary.
“I’m a mother. It was very painful. Unfortunately, I want to say shocking, but it’s not shocking. It’s disappointing, we’re very hurt.” Tijani said.
The crowd contained a large group that had come from a nearby pro-Palestinian rally, its members saying they shared a common goal of speaking out against violence.
The protestors walked along Broadway shouting chants, including “No Justice No Peace” and “Black Lives Matter.”
Kwilu said he hopes their message can spur changes to prevent incidents like this from happening again.
“For Mr. Opaso, but also for greater messaging in terms of having a safe city for all, making sure use of force by the police is proportionate and other responses are possible.”
— With files from Global’s Katherine Dornian
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