Afolabi Stephen Opaso, 19-Year-Old Nigerian Student shot dead by Police In Canada

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Jean-René-Dominique Kwilu, the Winnipeg lawyer aiding the family of a man fatally shot by Winnipeg police on New Year’s Eve, revealed that the victim was an international student from Nigeria. The 19-year-old, identified as, was studying at the University of Manitoba.

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According to CTV News, Winnipeg police reported the shooting to the Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba (IIU) a few hours after the incident occurred on December 31, around 2:20 p.m. Police had responded to reports of a man acting erratically in an apartment suite on University Crescent.

The IIU stated that two officers responded and found three people inside the suite. Winnipeg Police Chief Danny Smyth reported on Monday that the 19-year-old was armed with two knives, leading to a use-of-force encounter where one of the officers shot him.

Opaso was taken to the hospital in critical condition and later died. The two others in the suite were unharmed. Kwilu, based on witness accounts, mentioned that Opaso was experiencing a mental health episode, prompting a 911 call for assistance. He emphasized that there’s no indication Opaso attacked the police.

Expressing shock and trauma, Opaso’s family, who are not in Winnipeg, questions how the situation was handled, especially regarding a mental health call resulting in Opaso’s death. Kwilu highlighted that the call should have triggered the Alternative Response to Citizens in Crisis (ARCC) program. However, Winnipeg police stated it didn’t meet the ARCC criteria as officers couldn’t ensure the situation’s safety.

The IIU is investigating the shooting and will request a civilian monitor appointment from the Manitoba Police Commission due to the death involved. Opaso’s death contributes to Winnipeg’s rising homicide trend, recording 42 in 2023, though lower than the 53 reported in 2022, according to criminology professor Michael Weinrath from the University of Winnipeg.

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