TORONTO — A police officer who shot and wounded a Black woman after a domestic call on Mother’s Day in Mississauga, Ont., was charged on Thursday with criminal negligence and other offences.
In a statement, the director of the provincial Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Joseph Martino, said he had reasonable grounds to charge Valerie Briffa in the shooting of Chantelle Krupka, 34, earlier this year.
Briffa has already resigned from Peel Regional Police, Martino said in a statement, which gave few details of what happened.
The agency said Briffa was arrested on Thursday and charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon and careless use of a firearm. She was released on a promise to appear in court on Aug. 4 in Brampton, Ont., and barred from having any weapons.
Krupka, who attended a protest outside police headquarters on Thursday, was not immediately available to comment.
The shooting, which prompted several demonstrations against police brutality, occurred on the evening of May 10, 2020, when officers went to a home for a domestic call.
Krupka has previously said her ex-partner made the call after an argument earlier in the day. Officers threatened to charge her with a crime when she failed to go outside, she said, prompting her to call 911 to ask for a supervising officer to come to the home but was advised to go outside and speak to police.
The situation escalated and police used a Taser device on both Krupka and her current partner, Michael Headley, who is also Black. She said neither had threatened the officers and neither was armed.
At a news conference last month, the mother of a 10-year-old son said the jolt threw her onto her porch and that she thought it would kill her. When she tried to help Headley, the officer shot her in the abdomen.
“It was very quick and it was very shocking,” she said. “She seemed just as shocked as I was. She seemed just as scared as I was once she realized what she had done.”
Police later seized cannabis and cash from the home and charged both Krupka and Headley, which she said was an attempt to justify the use of force.
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Krupka’s lawyer, Davin Charney, praised the SIU for dealing quickly with the case. He said Krupka’s ex, who is not Black, had tried to “weaponize police” against her in a similar way to the now-infamous case involving Amy Cooper, a white woman who called police in New York from a park to say a Black man was threatening her.
“That’s one of the ways systemic racism plays out in policing,” Charney said. “They rely on the anti-Black racism of police.”
Charney also said officers frequently tend to “overestimate” the threat posed by Black people.
Krupka has complained to the province’s civilian watchdog, accusing the officers involved of using excessive force, unlawful arrest and discreditable conduct. The complaint also alleges systemic racism against Peel Regional Police.
The shooting follows numerous recent cases in Canada and the U.S. involving police killing or injuring Black, Indigenous or mentally ill people. The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked protests around the world and prompted calls to defund police.
“This case is just another example of police brutality and systemic racism in Canada — a phenomenon that we all need to acknowledge and fix,” says an online petition prompted by the Krupka shooting. “It can no longer be ignored by the people in power in this country.”
The SIU has previously said it had video of the incident. The video has not been released publicly.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 16, 2020.