The Regina Police Service will not lay charges after a First Nations man accused a Canadian Tire employee of assaulting him.
The decision comes after the police consulted with Saskatchewan Crown prosecutors, according to Regina police Chief Evan Bray.
“This is a pretty highly sensitive case,” Bray told reporters at a news conference Thursday.
Bray said Kamao Cappo, the man who made the complaint, and Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Vice-Chief Kimberley Jonathan had been informed of the decision.
Cappo said on Thursday that he was crushed to learn no charges would be laid, but wasn’t entirely surprised.
“How often do you hear of a white person being charged for assaulting an Indigenous person? You don’t hear it because it’s not done,” he said.
“But if the Indigenous person insults a white person, the police will do everything they can to make sure that that Indigenous person is charged and convicted.”
Customer accused of theft
Cappo filmed himself being thrown out of a Regina Canadian Tire store in July.
Cappo said he was in the store to buy a chainsaw, but noticed a problem just before purchasing it and left the product with customer service.
He said he placed a one-litre can of oil and a spare chain he was planning to purchase inside the box in order to make it easier for an employee to carry, which is when a man who worked there accused Cappo of attempting to steal.
Cappo disagreed and refused to leave the store. He posted two videos to social media that show the exchange with the worker growing increasingly heated.
At one point, the employee appears to push Cappo up against a shelf. He can then be seen pushing him toward the exit, with Cappo sliding on his feet.
“If we were white and walked into the store, this would not have happened,” wrote Cappo online after the incident.
No surveillance video
In July, Canadian Tire’s manager of corporate communications told CBC the employee involved was no longer with the company.
Bray said police completed a full investigation and did not submit any recommendation to prosecutors about laying charges.
He said police conducted witness interviews, but there was no surveillance video from inside the store.
Bray said business owners, or people acting on behalf of business owners, have the right to ask someone to leave a property, but how much force is warranted depends on the situation.
Bray said if someone is refusing to leave a premises after being asked, it’s always best to call police.
‘Two justice systems’
Cappo said the hardest part of the outcome is the message it sends to Indigenous people, especially since he had used social media to keep people informed about how the police and Canadian Tire reacted to the incident.
“It was to prove, it was to show them, if you stand up to injustice, you can win, something good can come of it. And this is just saying no — even with video recording, you are not going to win,” he said.
“There’s two justice systems for Canada. One for Indigenous people, and for one white people.”
FSIN vice-chief Jonathan said on Thursday she believes charges ought to have been laid and that the case is an example of the systemic racism faced by Indigenous people.
“It sends a huge message to our youth, our Indigenous youth, and you can’t help but feel angry, you can’t help but feel frustrated,” she said.
Jonathan said she’d support an independent review of the decision from outside of the province.
The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. – Deuteronomy 28:12