Accidental death inquest ruling doesn’t serve justice, says family
- EFN Staff | August 12, 2018
Brailee Lafond was the light and the biggest love in her father’s life. The two were inseparable. A daughter and father bond that no one could take away – up until three years ago.
Her father, Jordan Lafond, died on October 23, 2016 after the vehicle he was a passenger in crashed as it was being pursued by the Saskatoon Police Service (SPS). Two SPS officers used force as they arrested Lafond and he was taken into custody. He had appeared to be in medical distress and was taken to Royal University Hospital, where he died the next day.
A Coroner’s Inquest into the death of Lafond was held this past June 25-29 to determine if he died from injuries in result of the crash or if the police had a role in this incident. The inquest held in Saskatoon at the Court Queen’s Bench concluded Lafond’s death was an accident.
It was something that Lafond’s mother, Charmaine Dreaver, was not prepared to hear.
“I was in complete shock…it was very hard to hear what my son went through and the pain he endured in the last moments of his life,” she said. “I am happy that I brought the truth out. [The officers] gave their sworn testimonies. I’m not happy that it’s ‘accidental’ and that there were jurors. They did not know who he was as a person, as a son, as a father.”
Lafond left behind his 4-year-old daughter, his mother and his two younger siblings. Dreaver remembers her son as someone who was very family oriented, fun to be around, well-liked, and a hard worker. She reminisced of the day her son revealed to her that she was going to be a grandmother.
“The smile he had on his face, he was so proud,” Dreaver said. “He said ‘I’m going to be a dad, mom’. I was like ‘Wow!’ That made me very happy because I loved Jordan so much.”
Lafond now cares for her late son’s daughter, Brailee. Although the biggest love in her son’s life is now in her care, Dreaver said her and her family are still dealing with the tragic loss of Lafond.
“It’s put a real big impact on everybody at home,” she said. “It’s been really tough for us. We’re all really broken about losing Jordan. He was with us day in and day out. He was a big part of our family.”
Dreaver was not prepared to face the men who assaulted her son. She prayed for strength the week of the inquest and hoped for justice would be served for Jordan.
At the inquest, SPS Sgt. Kelly Olafson and Sgt. Thomas Gresty gave their sworn testimonies and Lafond heard the trauma her son endured. Sgt. Gresty admitted to giving two or three knee strikes to Lafond’s head and upper body. People at the inquest viewed a video from the police cruiser’s dashcam and witnessed the kicking and kneeing motions from the officer.
According to Lafond, at the end of the video, the cops were heard yelling ‘stop resisting’ and Jordan screamed in agony.
As the inquest found Lafond’s death as ‘accidental’, there were some recommendations that were made to prevent similar deaths.
1. Municipal and provincial officials facilitate a public awareness campaign in educating the general public in relation to the importance of individuals taking all prudent steps to properly store and secure their firearms.
2. The provincial Ministry of Justice seek increased penalties, which might include but not be limited to supplemental firearms storage and handling education/training for individuals convicted of offences related to the unsafe storage of firearms.
SPS Chief Troy Cooper said in a statement, “I want to acknowledge the loss of life that occurred and the grief the family is feeling. Our Service recognizes the importance of the inquest and the juror recommendations as part of a larger process to examine the incident. As I have said before, this is not the first step or the last step in the process, but it is a significant one.”
Although the inquest is over, Dreaver said she’s not going to stop fighting for justice for her son.
“It’s not right what they did to Jordan. They took him away from us. I feel those officers are completely responsible for ending his life,” she said. “He didn’t deserve to die. My fight doesn’t stop at the inquest.”
For now, Dreaver will continue looking after her two children and Brailee – the daughter that meant the whole world to Dreaver’s son, Jordan.