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UPDATED: OPP are now investigating the death of Stacy DeBungee

The independent investigation was requested by the Ministry of the Attorney General.

THUNDER BAY — Ontario Provincial Police are conducting an independent investigation into the death of Stacy DeBungee in Thunder Bay in October 2015.

OPP confirmed the start of their probe on Tuesday, which marked the sixth anniversary of the discovery of DeBungee's body in the McIntyre River, near the intersection of Carrick and Waterford Streets.

The 41-year-old man had been living in Thunder Bay but was an Anishinaabe member of Rainy River First Nations.

It was first disclosed in June that the Ministry of the Attorney General had asked the OPP to look into the DeBungee case.

"Our intention is to thoroughly investigate the circumstances leading to the death of Stacy DeBungee. Mr. DeBungee's family, his friends, his community and the public deserve to know what happened," Detective Inspector Shawn Glassford of the OPP Criminal Investigation Branch said in Tuesday's statement.

A dedicated tip line – 1-833-533-8477 – has been established for members of the public to provide information to investigators.

Individuals wishing to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Thunder Bay Police conducted the initial investigation into DeBungee's death, and determined early on that it was a non-criminal matter.

However, after a complaint from his family, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director concluded that important leads in the case had been ignored, and that racism may have influenced how the investigation was conducted.

Three officers face disciplinary hearings next year under Ontario's Police Services Act.

All three are charged with neglect of duty, while two are also charged with discreditable conduct. 

In an interview, Detective Inspector Glassford conceded that the amount of time that has passed since DeBungee died poses some challenges for OPP investigators.

"People's memories fade, and what not, but we're going to be reinvestigating. We're going to be calling people...slow and meticulous."

Glassford said he has no doubt that there are people in the community with knowledge of the case.

"It's important to know what happened...We'll be here as long as it takes. We don't have any time restraints. We are here to do a very thorough investigation."

OPP also have access to the files from the previous Thunder Bay Police investigation.

NOTE:  A previous version of this story has been updated with additional information obtained from the OPP

 

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