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Calls for Dunphy inquiry intensify

Don Dunphy’s daughter supports a call for a commission of inquiry into the death of her father, lawyer Erin Breen said Wednesday afternoon.

James McLeod/The Telegram
NDP Leader Earle McCurdy speaks to the media at Confederation Building in St. John’s Tuesday about the potential for a commision of inquiry into the shooting death of Don Dunphy by an RNC officer on Easter Sunday.

Breen has been representing the Dunphy family after the 59-year-old Mitchell’s Brook resident was shot in his home by an RNC officer on Easter Sunday.

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The officer was investigating a perceived threat based on something Dunphy posted on Twitter two days earlier.

According to the RCMP, which is investigating the matter, after the RNC officer was invited into the home, Dunphy became agitated and pointed a rifle at the officer, and the RNC officer shot and killed Dunphy.

In the 10 days since the shooting, calls for some sort of inquiry have been mounting, and on Wednesday afternoon NDP Leader Earle McCurdy told reporters his party is calling on the government to initiate a commission of inquiry.

Breen said Dunphy’s daughter is generally supportive of that call, although up until now they’re primarily focused on the criminal investigation being conducted by the RCMP.

McCurdy said there are questions the police investigation simply cannot answer.

“Among other things, it would need to look into the protocols and decision-making processes of the protective security unit, and the relationship between and among that unit, the premier’s office, the RNC, the RCMP and the general public,” McCurdy said.

Moreover, McCurdy said a full airing of the facts through a commission of inquiry is necessary to restore public confidence in the police and the justice system.

“What happened on Easter Sunday in Mitchell’s Brook is a matter of great public concern, and has shaken the confidence of the people of the province in our law-enforcement processes,” McCurdy said. “Nothing short of a judicial inquiry can restore that confidence and resolve the issues surrounding Mr. Dunphy’s death.”

Justice Minister Darin King issued a statement, saying, “This incident is the matter of an active RCMP investigation which is subject to independent oversight by retired Justice David Riche. Also, as per the Fatalities Investigations Act, the chief medical examiner will be required to review the case and prepare a report.

“The priority at this juncture is for that work to continue so that we have a full understanding of what occurred before any final determination is made on whether a judicial inquiry will be called.”

Liberal justice critic Andrew Parsons said the Liberals want all the answers, but a call for an inquiry into Dunphy’s death feels premature.

“This is a tragedy. They barely laid their father to rest and to just jump out and say that right now is just playing politics,” Parsons said.

He pointed out that in the case of Norman Reid and Darryl Power, the last two victims of police shooting fatalities in the province, the same day that the police announced no charges would be laid, the minister of justice called an inquiry.

“The investigation going on right now, I would assume, is for the purpose of determining whether criminal charges should be laid or not,” Parsons said. “We don’t know if criminal charges are coming out of this yet, so I really want to see how that goes.”

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