Insp. Alex Laporte, Yellowknife RCMP detachment commander, was on the hot seat Tuesday as city councillor Stacie Smith questioned how a man charged with armed robbery and out on bail could wind up accused of murdering a young woman less than two months later.
Smith was was referring to Breanna Menacho, 22, a young Indigenous woman whose body was found in a Lanky Court apartment May 6. She had been reported missing the day before. Devon Larabie, 27, was charged with murder May 8.
He was out on bail at the time of his arrest, accused of robbing the Circle K Convenience Store on Forrest Drive at knife-point during the early morning hours of March 17.
Smith, the city’s sole Indigenous city councillor, noted Menacho’s body was found the day after the May 5 National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
“My point had been that this young woman, who had her whole life ahead of her, was found the day after the National Day of Awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls,” she stated. “It was significant, it spoke louder words than I could ever write. It exemplifies a precedent that is felt not only with Indigenous peoples but is being acknowledged by non-indigenous who see the injustices.”
Two other individuals have since been arrested and charged as accessories in Menacho’s death – Jordan Nande and Lisa Brule, 21. They made a brief appearance in territorial court on the same day as Laporte’s presentation.
Smith asked Laporte why Larabie wasn’t monitored better, considering the seriousness of the armed robbery charge.
“As we speak right now, the funeral for the late Breanna Menacho is taking place,” she said. “And so we have many Yellowknifers that are very concerned as to why this individual (Larabie) was released on bail and why more caution wasn’t taken towards – for lack of better words – keeping an eye on him if he was such a risk for armed robbery?”
Laporte offered his condolences to the community and Menacho family. He acknowledged that the situation is a “very difficult” one for the community and one that remains hard on investigating officers as they search for answers.
He said the incident remains under investigation and he would not speak to decisions by the judiciary – another arm of the law – in its decision to release Larabie on bail.
“I have read the news articles in relation to the accused in this case and the murderer of Breanna having been on bail and that that person was arrested for the armed robbery a few months ago and brought through the judicial system,” Laporte said, noting that many of the details of the case are before the courts.
“I accept and understand the concerns of the community when someone who’s in court conditions re-offends and in this case in a very tragic way.”
He said the RCMP can’t comment on anything beyond the execution of Canadian law.
“But for us from a police agency perspective, we apply the Criminal Code of Canada on processing individuals that we arrest when we bring charges before the court,” he explained.
“We’re one part of the judicial system so I cannot answer to other parts that are not under our control or my control. When the individual is brought before the courts with the elements for the investigation, and the courts are seized and are making decisions that are in line with the criminal court in relation to remands or release or bail hearings and show causes. This belongs to the court system.”
Smith stated in an email after the meeting that she was content with the detachment commander’s response and understood details in the Menacho case couldn’t be divulged. that detailed information about Breanna’s case wouldn’t be devolved.
“I hope that by asking these questions, bringing to light theses situations where repeat offenders, or offenders in general, are being released to the public after causing such harm,” Smith stated. “In this case the 27 year old was charged for armed robbery in early March and was out on bail. By asking my questions I hope that those in the judicial system can see where there are flaws that need to be addressed to prevent the needless harm to others. “