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Broken trust: Tuel killing strains police-community relations

The weekend killing of Latjor Tuel sent a shockwave through Calgary's South Sudanese community, some of whom say the trust they had with police has been shattered  will take a long time to rebuild.

One of them, David Top, a good friend of Tuel, believes Tuel would still be alive if he was white.

"It was a racially motivated action to one of the members of our community," said Top. “If he was not black, he would have been approached differently and he would’ve also been treated differently."

“The reality is that trust when something like this happen, you don't see that trust, (anymore) because you may have built up trust for 15 years, but when something like this happen, it breaks 15 years in one second," said Gar Gar, a member of Calgary’s South Sudanese Community.

On Wednesday, CPS Chief Mark Neufeld faced questions from the police commission regarding Tuel’s death at the hands of police. Nuefeld admitted Tuel may have faced systemic barriers that led to his death, but was adamant his officers were not racially motivated in killing him.

"Was there systemic barriers or systemic discrimination that led to this situation at some other point? That may very well be," said Neufeld "but in terms of the officers who responded to the situation and the manner in which they responded, I am absolutely confident this did not have anything to do with the colour of Mr. Tuel's skin."

"Certainly I think we're well positioned with our Diversity Advisory boards and the work we do with community" he told the commission. "In our anti-racism committee, I think we have the mechanisms there to be able to get that cultural sensitivity and to incorporate those pieces into our training. But again, these situations, I would suggest, are far from perfect. And they they're very dynamic when they when they occur."

Alberta's Serious Incident Response Team has taken over the investigation of the police killing of Tuel.

Meanwhile Mayor Jyoti Gondek took to Twitter Tuesday night to mourn the loss of Tuel and question the actions of police.

"Loss of life in our city is tragic at any time, but the loss of Latjor Tuel is particularly devastating," said Gondek in a Twitter thread. "Mr. Tuel was loved by friends and family, and was a well-known member of the Sudanese community in Calgary. He was in crisis and we are left with so many questions."

"While we await an investigation, we question de-escalation methods and use of lethal force. We question why mental health support is not embedded within community policing. We question how to strengthen newcomer support services to deal with complex trauma."

Witnesses say a "distressed" Tuel advanced on officers with a knife during Saturday's standoff and was shot four times with bullets after 'less-lethal rounds' failed to thwart him when the situation escalated. He did not survive.

A police service dog was injured by Tuel during the encounter and was taken to an animal hospital in life-threatening condition. CPS officials confirm no officers were injured during the response.

Family members say Tuel was struggling with his mental health, including suspected post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but was not an aggressive man.

"He suffered from ongoing mental health crisis, He was going through a mental health crisis at the time of his murder. A clear cry for help," Nyalinglat Latjor wrote on a GoFundMe page started for Tuel's family.

He was a child soldier in his homeland of Sudan, fighting for freedom as a member of the Sudan People Liberation Army. He was later among the tens of thousands of 'Lost Boys of Sudan', youth who fled their country to escape civil war, and eventually found his way to Canada.

The Calgary Police Commission's February meeting was available to the public, save for portions where the focus is sensitive matters that cannot be discussed in public including personnel issues and police conduct complaints.


An online fundraiser, created by the family members already raised more than $70,000.

The GoFundMe campaign, called Justice for Latjor Tuel, was created on Tuesday out of a need for the family to transport his remains back to the Republic of South Sudan, at the request of his mother.

Nyalinglat Latjor, the organizer of the campaign, says Tuel was a father, uncle, brother and son and was "dedicated to his community."

"Latjor was an amazing man with a big heart. He was someone who loved to make people smile. He could put a smile on your face even if you were having your worst day."

The funds will also be used to pursue legal action, his family said.

"With this money we will also be able to pay for a great lawyer who will help us get answers. We are only able to do all these things in my father's memory without fear of how we can pay thanks to the generosity of all of you. My family thanks you all," Nyalinglat said.

ASIRT is still investigating the matter. Top Stories

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