Investigation into U of M student’s death transferred to Alberta organization

Transfer deemed necessary to preserve the ‘integrity of the investigative process’

To avoid any “perceived conflict of interest,” an out-of-province organization has taken over the investigation into the Dec. 31 fatal police shooting of 19-year-old U of M international student Afolabi Stephen Opaso from the Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba (IIU). 

Roxanne Gagné, civilian director of the IIU, recommended that the investigation be transferred to the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) because a “close relative” of a Winnipeg Police Service officer involved in the fatal shooting works for Manitoba Justice, which encompasses IIU. 

The connection was revealed “early in the investigation.” The organization said it has no concerns about the work already conducted by the IIU team but saw the transfer as crucial to preserve the “integrity of the investigative process.” 

A spokesperson for the Manitoba government said investigation transfers happen on a case-by-case basis, with the last investigation transfer occurring in response to a 2014 police shooting when a RCMP officer shot and injured a man in Norway House Cree Nation. That case was also transferred to ASIRT.