Levi Schaeffer was shot to death by an OPP officer on June 24th 2009, on the shore of Osnaburgh Lake, in Northern Ontario. The exact details of his death may never be known. Rather than writing notes as soon as the incident happened, the officers were instructed by a superior officer to consult a lawyer before writing their notes two days after the shooting. All the police officers involved consulted the same lawyer, provided by the Ontario Provincial Police Association.
"The officers created two set of notes only one of which has been seen by the [Special Investigations Unit] SIU, the original set of notes has only been seen those officers solicitor. I don’t understand how the SIU can do the job of investigating if they don’t have the notes to investigate with" said Ruth Schaeffer addressing a crowd of 30 people in the basement of the Peterborough Library, last Thursday. It was the first time she had spoken publicly on her sons death.
She explained what they knew of her sons death based on the police notes. They explained that he was found with a stolen boat and that after a brief conversation, the officers they took him into investigative custody. he then broke free and pulled a small knife. He slowly approached the officers until an officer shot him twice, once in the arm and once in the chest. She also explained a bit about the difficult life her son had lived, including his encounters with the metal health system, and how he had chosen to live in the bush as place where he could better cope.
The Schaeffers are one of two families bringing a legal challenge to the courts to stop the practice of allowing police to consult lawyers before writing their notes, a practice vigorously defended by the police. At Superior Court their application was denied, but they are now in the process of mounting an appeal.
"My son is dead , it was too late to find justice for my son, there wasn’t any. As metal health patient there was no justice, as a criminalized person there wasn’t any" said Schaeffer. She believes that their challenge will help bring justice to those who are still alive and stop other families from going through what she hers did.
Other speakers at the event included Levi's sister and two of his friends who are part of the The Coalition for Justice for Levi Schaeffer. The Campaign is currently trying to raise money to support their legal challenge.
To learn more about their campaign visit www.justiceforlevi.org