The ‘What ifs?’ of Solomon Uyarasuk’s death

What if Solomon hadn’t worn a belt that night?

What if Solomon had quieted down in the 30 minutes his neighbor waited before calling in a noise complaint to the RCMP?

“I’m in a desperate situation because maybe if I didn’t call the RCMP, Solomon would still be alive today,” his neighbour testified, his voice cracking. “A lot of thoughts go through my head.”

 

What if Const. Martin Noel had written down Sol’s correct birth date?

What if Noel, or his partner Sgt. Greg Murphy, weren’t white? Were Inuit or…anything but white?

What if at least one of them was a familiar face to Sol?

 

What if the brand new RCMP truck didn’t have more room in the backseat than the older trucks, allowing Solomon to swing his torso like a pendulum, his head the point of maximum velocity?

What if the officers let Solomon sleep it off in the RCMP truck, like he pleaded with the officers to let him do, outside the detachment?  The officers broke other policies that night.

What if the officers noticed Solomon’s belt before taking off the handcuffs?

What if one of the officers knew exactly where the key for Solomon’s prison door was?

 

What if one of the officers guarded Sol’s cell, knowing the latch was broken and a suicide risk, until the prison guard arrived?

 

What if the officers at least tried or asked for Sol’s belt after he had calmed down?

What if Murphy didn’t get lost on the way to the health centre, to pick up the nurse?

 

DSC_1849Death is always accompanied by arbitrary factors.

But then there are non-arbitrary factors, factors that are systemic, predictable and can and should be addressed.

 

What if Murphy had been given more preparation for his first trip to Nunavut and his first shift as a community police officer in over 15 years other than a single piece of racist advice to watch out for drunken Inuit?

 

What if the officers knew the suicide statistics for Nunavut?

What if the thought of suicide had at least crossed their minds?

What if the officers knew alcoholism stats for Nunavut?

What if the officers knew how many suicide attempts in Nunavut are alcohol related?

In 2011, the national suicide rate, per 100,000 citizens was 10.1. In Nunavut it was 71.5.

 

What if the officers had studied colonialism or the psychology of the colonized?

What if RCMP carried pocket knives on their belts?

What if the RCMP had fixed the broken meal slot in a reasonable time? Even after Solomon’s death, it took almost two years to get it properly fixed.

 

What if video cameras were installed in every cell?

 

What if the officers knew how to treat an angry, intoxicated male in a way other than locking him up in a cell?

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