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.
For nearly twenty-five 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. He is the author of the 1999 book Cowboys and Indians: The Shooting of J.J. Harper, which won three awards and was made into a movie for the CBC. For his journalism, Sinclair has won a Manitoba Human Rights Award and two National Newspaper Awards.
He lives in Winnipeg.
WINNER 2000 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Non-Fiction