A year after Latjor Tuel’s death, questions remain for his family

Latjor Tuel was one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, the 20,000 boys snatched from their families and forced into battle.  He is pictured here in the Pinyudo refugee camp in Ethiopia.  (Submitted by Nyalinglat Latjor - photo credit)

Latjor Tuel was one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, the 20,000 boys snatched from their families and forced into battle. He is pictured here in the Pinyudo refugee camp in Ethiopia. (Submitted by Nyalinglat Latjor – photo credit)

Calgarians gathered Sunday to celebrate a year since the death of Latjor Tuel, who was shot dead by police.

Tuel’s family, gathered at the spot where he died, is still searching for answers.

Tuel was a former child soldier who immigrated to Calgary from South Sudan and was said to have been suffering from mental health issues including PTSD at the time of his death.

In 2022 he was shot dead by the police. Police said Tuel allegedly attacked someone with a stick and he was carrying a knife.

A celebratory group of about two dozen people gathered in southeast Calgary on Sunday to commemorate Tuel.

His eldest daughter, Nyalinglat Latjor, said Sunday she remembered her father as a teacher who always wanted to make others laugh.

Tom Ross/CBC

Tom Ross/CBC

But she added that she spent most of the year angry and the passing of a year brought up a lot of emotions.

“He told Nyalinglat you are so small and when I was your age I never had what you have. I carried around a gun that was bigger than me,” she said.

“I never really appreciated that moment until I lost it. I never really thought of the depth of what he said until I lost him… it breaks my heart that he was suffering.”

She said Tuel came to Canada 22 years ago in search of a better life.

Nyalinglat said she wants to know why the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) is taking so long to investigate the shooting and release its report.

ASIRT investigates incidents in which police officers may have caused serious injury or death, as well as serious or sensitive allegations of police misconduct.

Tom Ross/CBC

Tom Ross/CBC

CBC previously reported ASIRT’s backlog with hundreds of open files. CBC reached out to ASIRT for comment, which was not immediately available.

“There are videos, they have the bodycam footage, why isn’t the bodycam footage released? Why don’t they tell us?” She said.

Nyalinglat pointed to the Toronto Police Service, which released a report in June that found the city’s police force was using more violence against black people without explanation.

Nyalinglat asked the Calgary Police Service to provide its own data.

“I’ll keep screaming until they take care of me. Because my pain isn’t going anywhere, so I’m not going anywhere,” she said.

Tom Ross/CBC

Tom Ross/CBC

She also asked why police shootings are still happening in Alberta and what the police are doing to take steps to change this.

February 4th was ASIRT instructed to investigate a shootout by RCMP Alberta on Cold Lake First Nation, resulting in one fatality. On February 8, ASIRT was ordered to investigate a Calgary police officer involved in shooting that resulted in injuries.

On February 12, ASIRT was directed to investigate an RCMP Alberta officer involved in a shooting that resulted in an injury in Wheatland County and on February 14, ASIRT was directed to investigate a shooting involving an officer, which, according to a media release, caused injuries, but a subsequently ASIRT tweet said the person had died.

Tuel’s mother, Rebecca Aker Akol, spoke through Nyalinglat’s translation on Sunday. She said she traveled to Calgary from Sudan because she wanted to know why her son died.

“I want to know if there were other things that could have been done for my son to be alive today,” Akol said. “Where was the mistake?”

In the weeks following the Tuel shooting, Calgary Police Chief Mark Neufeld said the “dynamic” scene presented officers with a situation that was far from perfect.

“Frontline police officers get the cards they’re dealt and sometimes their hand is far from ideal,” Neufeld said at a police commission meeting on Feb. 23.

A member of the Calgary Police Commission asked the chief why a canine unit was used as a de-escalation tactic given its problematic historical use with non-white people.

Calgary Police were not immediately available for comment Sunday.

Police have also previously acknowledged that Tuel’s death “represents a setback” in efforts to build trust between the CPS and the Sudanese community.


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