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Home News Prince Albert police officers found neglectful of duty following independent investigation into death of Baby Tanner Brass

Prince Albert police officers found neglectful of duty following independent investigation into death of Baby Tanner Brass

Prince Albert police officers found neglectful of duty following independent investigation into death of Baby Tanner Brass
Tanner Brass was 13 months old when he was found dead in his home. His father, Kaij Brass, has been charged with second degree murder. -- Photo from Gray’s Funeral Chapel

More than a year after 13-month-old Tanner Brass was killed and the Prince Albert Police Service’s response to the call for service prior to the child’s death was called into question; the Public Complaints Commission (PCC) have released a public report of its findings into the police investigation on the day of Feb. 10, 2022.

According to Public Complaints Commission Chair Michelle Ouellette, the Commission found neglect of duty by officers with the Prince Albert Police Service (PAPS) in its investigation.

“The Public Complaints Commission extends its condolences to Tanner Brass’s family for the loss of their child,” said Ouellette. “We appreciate the cooperation of the family of Tanner Brass and the Prince Albert Police Service throughout our investigation into this tragic death.”

The day after Tanner was killed inside his Prince Albert home, PAPS requested that an independent investigation be opened by the PCC into the circumstances of the baby’s death, to determine whether it was the result of a possible incident of misconduct by the two police officers that responded during the initial call for service.

“The circumstances on the morning of February 10, 2022, amount to a tragic and potentially avoidable incident,” said the PCC.

As part of the investigation, the PCC collected evidence from subject officers, witness officers, in-car recordings, audio recording of the 911 call, PAPS information management system records, dispatch records, cell phone records, CCTV recordings, Tanner’s autopsy reports, and internal PAPS policy documents, which was used to create a timeline of events leading up to Tanner Brass’s tragic death.

The report makes note of several contradictions between what was alleged in the media and what was found during the PCC’s investigation, including that Tanner’s mother Kyla Frenchman, identified as AP2, did not beg or cry for officers to help her son while in police holding cells.

“It has been stated that, while lodged at the detention center, AP2 tried repeatedly to tell PAPS police officers that [Tanner] was in danger, but that they ignored her or advised it was not their job to help her. A review of the detention center and cellblock audio and video does not substantiate this version of events.”

According to the report, a PCC investigator also made multiple attempts to contact a witness who claimed that while detained in the cellblock area, he could hear a woman yelling for the police to help her get her baby.

“The witness did not make himself available for an interview,” said the report. “A review of the audio and video recordings from the detention and cellblock areas does not support the witness’s claim.”

The PCC’s report concluded that at all relevant times, Tanner Brass was vulnerable and in danger while inside the residence with his father, Kaij Brass, who has been charged with second degree murder. Tanner’s status remained unknown until PAPS received a call about the deceased child hours later.

Neither officer entered the residence to ensure Tanner’s safety, despite being informed of the concern’s raised by his mother in her 911 call, and failed to follow the PAPS intimate partner violence policy, which requires them to “ensure the immediate safety of the complainant and any children who may be present”.

The report notes that no calls were made to supervisors requesting additional assistance, nor did the officers take any information concerning Kaij Brass’s level of intoxication and whether he was safe to be alone with Tanner.

“The totality of the circumstances demonstrates a series of compounded failures by SO1 and SO2 when they had a legal duty to investigate the 911 call by AP2,” said the report. “This was neglect of duty by both SO1 and SO2, contrary to section 36(c) of The Municipal Police Discipline Regulations, 1991, in failing to conduct a proper investigation of a domestic violence situation despite the presence of a vulnerable and unprotected infant.”

The CPP said the investigation was forwarded to the Public Prosecution for review, but no criminal charges against the subject officers were recommended by the Crown, as the pathologist was unable to determine Tanner’s time of death during autopsy.

The two Prince Albert police members who responded to the initial call for service on Feb. 10, 2022, were suspended from active duty, which continues to stand in effect, according to PAPS Chief Jon Bergen.

In light of the CPP’s release of its investigative report, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) said it’s renewing calls for a Coroner’s Inquest, immediate intervention from the Ministry of Corrections and Public Safety, and greater investigation and accountability for all involved in the death of Baby Tanner and the treatment of Kyla Frenchman by PAPS on the morning on Feb. 10, 2022.

“The PCC’s report confirms what we already knew,” says FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron. “The PAPS has failed to serve our First Nations people, especially our most vulnerable. What we need now is accountability and action to address the profound racism and discrimination First Nations people experience daily at the hands of police in Saskatchewan.

“We demand that the officers be held criminally accountable for their failure to prevent the death of Baby Tanner, systemic racism and neglect must be addressed from the top down. All of those who were involved in Kyla and her family’s loss of young Baby Tanner should be fully investigated and held accountable.”

Police Chief Bergen announces retirement; to be replaced by interim chief seconded from Saskatoon Police Service

Bergen held a media conference Thursday afternoon in the wake of the report’s release, where he announced that he would be retiring from the Prince Albert police after 25 years of service, effective May 31.

“It is very public knowledge that my decisions as Chief in this matter have become the subject of escalating criticism and personal attack from a specific core of current and past members of the Prince Albert Police Service,” said Bergen.

“If I were to accept the responsibilities on me as Chief of Police under the Investigation Report released today – to discipline members, or to further investigate supervising members – it could be misrepresented as biased and influenced by the manner in which my family has been treated.”

Chief Jon Bergen announced his retirement from the Prince Albert Police Service on Thursday, May 18, 2023, following the release of the CPP’s investigative report on the death of Tanner Brass. — Bailey Sutherland/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter/Daily Herald

Bergen said his decision to request an independent investigation and remove the two officers involved from active service resulted in relentless, vocal criticisms of his leadership.

He and his family have been the victims of numerous personal attacks over the past three years, like receiving a Christmas card filled with hateful messages, having damaging statements put up on public mailboxes, and his daughter being followed around the city for several kilometers by police members while driving her mother’s car, according to Bergen.

These are just a few examples of the constant harassment that has become “completely exhausting”, he said.

The Prince Albert Board of Police Commissioners has agreed that an interim Chief of Police seconded from an external police agency be appointed to the position immediately.

“I am authorized by the Board at this time to report to the community that we have been able to arrange in cooperation with the Saskatoon Police Service the secondment of an interim Chief of Police. We feel fortunate to have arranged this appointment on an interim basis to assume the duties as Prince Albert’s Chief of Police, until such time as the Board can recruit and hire my replacement.”

Deputy Chief Prince said she was not interested in taking over the role in order to protect the discipline process.

“An external interim Chief is free from personal attacks that Chief Bergen and myself have experienced, and an interim Chief’s decision cannot be misrepresented as biased.”