Content warning: Police killing, anti-Black racism

On November 28th, 2023, the Winnipeg Police killed Dustin Hatcher in what the cops called a “traffic stop.” In reality, Dustin was sitting unarmed in a parked car with his partner, Carrie Blaydon. In this Q&A, Winnipeg Police Cause Harm spoke with Carrie, who witnessed Dustin’s murder, to hear firsthand what happened that night. 

Can you walk us through what happened the night Dustin was killed?

We were coming home, and we had parked behind a building in the lane on the street we lived on. We were gathering our stuff up when a police SUV came from the east side, pulled up behind us, and two officers got out of the vehicle and each officer came to each side of the vehicle.

The officer told us to “get out of the vehicle,” but did not give us a reason why or anything. I was in the driver’s seat, and I looked at my boyfriend Dustin and asked him what to do and he said “go” so I got out of the vehicle. As I got out an officer grabbed me, and Dustin jumped from the passenger seat to the driver’s seat. The second officer on the passenger side of the car started to scream “he's trying to flee.” The officer closest to me was reaching for Dustin but I was standing right in the middle, so I pushed back against him with my body to get the officer away from Dustin. 

All of a sudden, I heard the glass smash and shots fired and the vehicle moved. The officer who shot him did not give him a warning; I did not hear him say “stop or I’ll shoot.” He did not warn Dustin at all that he was going to fire that gun. Dustin had no weapon and was just sitting in the driver’s seat of a vehicle when he was shot. The car only moved after Dustin was shot. After being shot three times, Dustin somehow managed to put the vehicle into drive to save his own life.

Me and the officer on the driver’s side fell to the ground, but neither of us was hurt. I got up and ran to the vehicle, which had crashed into the fence. I could see that Dustin was slouched over and his foot was still on the gas, and smoke was coming out of the car. The officer stood right up from when he fell and came after me. He tased me twice, then grabbed me and dragged me to the lane. He put force on me and I was screaming for them to help Dustin, and they didn’t help him. While one officer was on top of me, the other was calling for backup on the walkie talkie. It was the first time they were calling for backup, and the officer didn’t know where he was. He was trying to describe the house at the corner and didn’t know the addresses, even though they were right there on the buildings.

What happened immediately after Dustin was shot?

The officers handed me over to the next police vehicle that showed up, but then all of a sudden 20 more police vehicles showed up. They took me out of the first car they had put me in, and took me all the way to the end of the lane and around the corner so I couldn’t see what was going on with them. Paramedics came to the car I was in and approached me and asked if I was okay and wanted to be seen. I told them “no, go help him, go help him.” The paramedics went away and then 10 minutes later, not even, they walked back and said that I had to be checked out and go to the hospital. I got checked out by the ambulance but didn’t want to go to the hospital, so I left the ambulance and went back into the cop car. Then, the ambulance started driving away and we pulled out right behind the ambulance. When I looked down the lane, officers were carrying Dustin by the wrists and the ankles. They just dropped him on the ground, with his pants halfway down and his shirt pulled up. And they just dropped him there.

What happened to you once you left the scene in the cop car?

They brought me to the PSB (Public Safety Building). I was arrested at 12:30 and released the next day around 10:30. They charged me with theft under $5,000 and assault on a peace officer with a weapon. When I was released from the PSB, I only had one charge and it was possession obtained by crime. I was told to stay away from the driver of the vehicle as one of the conditions.

When I first got to the PSB, I knew he was dead, but I wanted the confirmation—but no one would tell me. And then they said, “do you want a lawyer,” and I just knew if he was alive they would have been questioning me and interviewing me. That didn’t happen. Eventually, they got me a lawyer, and we spoke on the phone, and they put me into an interrogation room with cameras and that’s when IIU came and asked me questions. I didn’t know who they were at first, but they were the ones who told me Dustin died, and then they told me who they were. I didn’t speak to them because I don’t trust police at all. Winnipeg police are corrupt, so I knew I wanted to go public with the truth before I said anything to anybody because I don’t talk to cops.

Photo of Carrie crouching next to memorial, which includes photos, teddy bears, and a hat.
Carrie Blaydon visits the memorial to Dustin Hatcher near the spot where he was shot by police. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

What was your experience like going to the media to share your story?

When I came home from the PSB, there was an article in the paper that said that Dustin had gotten medical care; they had taken him to the hospital, where he had died later. It said that the officer was pinned by the vehicle, which he wasn’t—it didn’t say what he was pinned up against or anything like that but it was full of lies.

Dustin died on the scene: he wasn’t taken to the hospital in the ambulance; he was being dropped on the ground when I left. The officer wasn’t pinned up by the vehicle at all, if anything, he was pinned by me against the vehicle that was parked beside us.

Right after I read the article, I phoned CBC, met with them and gave an interview. When I saw the interview, everything that they had written about what I said was “alleged, alleged, alleged.” The comments from the public were very rude. I was even getting messages on Facebook saying that they should have shot me too, that he got what he deserved, if WPS did that more often less crime would be happening, our city would be a safer place if we shot more criminals, stuff like that in my inbox.

I still don’t know why the cops came and pulled up behind us, it made no sense at all, no idea. It feels like they are justifying him being shot by his record and his past but how did they know that was him in the vehicle? I know he was in the most wanted, we had seen him the day before in it, but he was gonna turn himself in after Christmas. He was wanted for a failure to comply and a shoplifting charge. I don’t know if anybody deserves to be shot three times for that.

The media highlighted Dustin’s past involvement with the police. Would you like to speak to that?

When something like this happens, the cops need to take responsibility. Dustin did nothing wrong to be shot three times. I hear stories from other people about what officers do to them when they have trouble with the law.

Cops say they are here to serve and protect but they don’t do that at all, especially not to lower-class people or people that are vulnerable to crime and addiction. They treat us like we are nothing, like we are not human. I just want Dustin’s story to be heard and I want to be his voice. No matter what he had done in his life, he did not deserve to die like this. He did nothing wrong—he tried to flee, that’s all he tried to do, the officer shot with no warning, he was unarmed, they shoot to kill, they didn’t shoot to stop him, they shoot to kill. You don’t shoot someone three times.

And the thing is, he was a Black man. And I don’t know if that may be the case, but maybe that’s the issue. How did they know that was him? They didn’t know it was him.

What do you want people to know about Dustin?

Dustin was a good guy. He had his issues and no one is perfect, but he had three children who don’t have a father now. He was a good father, he was so kind, he'd do anything for anybody. He was trying to get his life together; we were trying to get our life together. And now he doesn’t have a life.

What can people do to support?

People can come forward with their stories about what has happened to them in encounters with police, which may put some light or some pressure on the cops. People have a lot of negative stories about the Winnipeg police. They need to be held responsible; they have to change.

Now, it was my word against theirs and they are police officers and I’m only a thieving junkie, you know, in their eyes. I don’t know, I mean, me and Dustin were both addicts, we have a history of crime, but we need to be believed, you know? But I'm telling the truth – they shot him for nothing and someone needs to be held responsible. Dustin’s family is in pain and this officer is sitting at home with pay.