When J.J. Harper of the Island Lake Tribal Council was fatally shot on a wintry Winnipeg street in 1988, the city police department was quick to absolve the officer involved from all blame. Less than a day after the shooting, Police Chief Herb Stephen announced that Harper had died during a struggle for Constable Robert Cross’s gun.
But the truth was not so cut and dried. Far from closing the case, Stephen’s remarks were just the start of this dramatic tale of sex, death, threats, flimsy charges, and a police force so out of control that a prominent lawyer, a senior Crown attorney, and a respected journalist all had reason to suspect they were being watched by the police.
Pursued doggedly by Winnipeg Free Press columnist Gordon Sinclair Jr., the stranger-than-fiction story of the shooting of J.J. Harper points a finger at the growing disaster of race relations and policing in Canada’s inner cities.
Gordon Sinclair, Jr.
About Gordon Sinclair, Jr.
For nearly twenty years, Gordon Sinclair Jr. has been a writer for the Winnipeg Free Press, producing thrice-weekly, wide-ranging columns on whatever catches his eye about the city. Sometimes it is about wild trips with Governor General Ed Schreyer and writer Farley Mowat, sometimes it is about investigating a police shooting where the whole police department seems intent on covering up the truth. Sinclair pursued the story of the shooting of J.J. Harper so single-mindedly and so painstakingly, he became a character in this remarkable story, and a target for the police. He won a Manitoba Human Rights Award and a National Newspaper Award (the first of two) for his columns on the Harper case. Today, he lives in Winnipeg and continues to write for the Winnipeg Free Press. Cowboys and Indians is his first book.
WINNER 2000 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Non-Fiction