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Justice (25-42)

Family of Indigenous man killed in crash devastated, angry with police

October 25, 2023

George Louttit’s sister feels police interactions laced with cultural bias

‘We just don’t know how to heal,’ says family of man killed in fatal collision: Duration 1:30

Amy Louttit said her family is still searching for answers after her brother, George Louttit, was killed in a fatal collision in Little Italy on Oct. 2.

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Amy Louttit was devastated to find out her brother died in what Ottawa police are calling a “fatal collision,” two days after the fact. “They said it looks like he was hit by something, and then they found him on the sidewalk 20 minutes after he died,” she said. “It was very vague.”

Her confusion transformed to anger after a series of interactions with Ottawa police officers, Louttit told CBC.

It took two days for police to contact the family about her brother’s death, and three days for police to notify the public, which included a request for any dashcam video people might have, she said.

Police have not called the collision a hit and run.

Louttit believes police approached the investigation with cultural bias, saying that officers also assumed her brother was homeless. “My family and I are worried they’re going to write him off because he’s Native,” she said.

man in front of chinatown gate
George Louttit, 39, lived in Ottawa’s Chinatown for the last 10 years, according to his sister. (Submitted)

In order to prove to investigators that George Louttit, 39, had an address, his sister used Google Street View to find two images where he was captured at the front door of his home. He lived just a kilometre away from where he was killed, a basic clue that Louttit said somehow evaded police.

Second death opens old wounds

It’s the second time the family has lost a loved one under murky circumstances. Louttit’s mother, Pauline Florence Ida Wesley, died more than 10 years ago in what police called an “accidental drowning.”

Louttit said the family still classifies her as a missing or murdered Indigenous woman. “There’s just so much there that doesn’t make sense, that we know it wasn’t accidental,” Amy Louttit said of her mother’s death.

This latest experience with law enforcement has reopened old wounds, she said. “We have two people in our immediate family who’ve been killed, and there is no justice.” 

Ottawa police said in an emailed statement that George Louttit’s death remains under investigation.

‘A big teddy bear’ 

“Georgie,” as he was known to friends and family, was Swampy Cree and grew up on reserve in the Attawapiskat First Nation in northern Ontario. 

Louttit said her brother had a great sense of humour, with a penchant for Chuck Norris jokes. He was also artistic, kind, and protective of his family. “I used to get bullied in grade school, so he would teach me to do karate and teach me how to punch,” Louttit recalled, adding her brother never fought with his six siblings. 

“He was like a big teddy bear.” 

Louttit said her brother left the reserve to come to Ottawa over a decade ago. Though he struggled with alcohol addiction, as well as generational and personal trauma, Louttit said life in the city was going well for Georgie until tragedy struck on Oct. 2.

family photo
George Louttit, fifth from left, pictured with his family in Attawapiskat, Ont. (Submitted)
74 hours to issue police notice

A CBC reporter noticed a section of St. Anthony Street off Preston Street was closed just before noon on the holiday Monday marking the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. At the time, police had laid a yellow tarp over what appeared to be a body. Within an hour, paramedics confirmed they had received a call for service but couldn’t give further details, saying a police investigation was underway.

Police waited until Oct. 5 to issue a news release, which called the incident in Little Italy a “fatal collision.”

Officers had received a call for service at about 10:30 a.m three days earlier, and arrived to find a 39-year-old man had succumbed to his injuries, the release said.

Police car and police tape.
The site of what police are calling a fatal collision in Little Italy on Oct. 2. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC News)

The Louttit family said police lost valuable time in taking more than three days, or 74 hours, to issue the notice. “Someone hit him and took off, and that person is out there living their life, with no consequences,” Amy Louttit said. 

CBC found 19 news releases issued in the first nine months of 2023 where Ottawa police labelled collisions “serious,” “fatal” or “hit and run.” On average, releases were issued about 30 hours after a collision was first reported — a far shorter time period than Louttit’s case.

Police denied request for morgue visit
woman in black shirt
Amy Louttit says she wishes police had woken her up when they visited her supportive housing facility on Oct. 3, a day after her brother’s death. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

Louttit said she found out about her brother’s death on Oct. 4, when a pair of officers arrived at her home.

She recalled asking the officers if she could go to the morgue to identify the body, but was told no because officials had already confirmed his identity by fingerprint.  Louttit said she was struck by how the officers characterized her deceased brother, believing he had no fixed address.

Her brother had been receiving benefits from the Ontario Disability Support Program, which requires a registered address for eligibility. She thinks he may have been walking to a neighbourhood food bank when he was struck and killed.

Police say they made several visits to sister

In a written statement to CBC, Ottawa police said they try to “balance the public’s right to know … with the time it takes to positively identify a victim, locate and provide notification to loved ones.”

Notifications are issued on a case-by-case basis, police said, while acknowledging that notifying next of kin was “not as timely as [they] would have liked” in this case.

Police cited the unknown circumstances around the death and the time to positively identify the victim as factors to why it took longer to alert the family and the public. They also said the investigation process needed to include an autopsy, which was conducted the day after the collision. 

Ottawa police dispute Louttit’s timeline of events, saying officers visited her residence “several times over the course of the evening [on Oct. 3, one day after her brother’s death] in an effort to make contact.”  Louttit said staff at her housing facility told her police had visited once that night when she was asleep, but the officers declined an opportunity to wake her up.

“They should have woken me up,” Louttit said. “He was probably alone in the morgue for a few days without anyone knowing who he was. … I don’t think any human should have to go through that.” 

She hopes the person who hit her brother comes forward so the family can find some closure. 

man in field
George Louttit, lovingly known as ‘Georgie,’ was kind, friendly and protective, his sister says. (Submitted)

Avanthika Anand, Avanthika Anand is a reporter with CBC Ottawa. You can reach her by email

With files from Krystalle Ramlakhan