CALGARY – Frustrated family members of former CFL star Mike Labinjo are pushing back against police after detectives allegedly told them they weren’t able to charge anyone about two years after the suspicious death.
CityNews has been following this story, as the family accuses the Calgary Police Service of careless work right from the beginning of the investigation. But the Labinjos are determined to not let Mike be forgotten.
His Toronto family was the first to report missing items from his condo, then pointed police to cameras that captured people emptying the home. They had their chance to confront investigators on how they handled the case ahead of a May 2020 media update.
“[They said] ‘Well, they made a mistake and they didn’t follow protocol, and I can’t speak on what they did because I wasn’t there.’ And I said, ‘Well, we are concerned about this, like, this is very serious. Why was none of this done from the get-go?’ And I explained to them, I said, ‘Look, if I didn’t come from Toronto, you guys wouldn’t have never found the tape and we would have just thought that Mike had died in his sleep,” said Randy Labinjo, Mike’s brother.
According to the family, the Medical Examiner’s report determined Mike died of an overdose and after a witness came forward, the Labinjos pushed police to look at whether Mike had been given a lethal dose of drugs and if his death was tied to the theft of his belongings.
“Their mindset is overdose. I don’t know if it’s easier for them to wrap up a case like that. I don’t know if it’s because of the money they reminded me and mother that they spent on this case,” said Randy.
In August 2020, the family got a call and police informed them there wasn’t enough evidence for charges.
Their confidence in CPS had badly eroded; the Labinjos say their questions about the investigation were not welcome.
“When I sat down and had that conversation at the table, it almost felt like they were against us. You know what I mean? It was like, you guys came here and we’re telling you this is how it is,” Randy told CityNews.
“With the Calgary Police [it’s like], ‘No, you’re wrong, you don’t know what you’re talking about, you don’t know what you’re looking at,’” he said.
The family says police questioned them like they were criminals and acted inappropriately to a family just trying to get answers.
“There’s no remorse there. It’s cold. And that’s how they’ve been treating us since day one.”
CPS says it appreciates the family is seeking justice and is still collecting evidence and speaking with witnesses as the case remains active.
After CityNews first brought you this story Wednesday, the family says they received a follow-up call from CPS’ Professional Standards Section, which handles complaints. But the Labinjos feel backed into a corner.
“No closure. It’s a bit of a nightmare. And, at this point, it really feels like Calgary has taken everything that Mike was,” said Randy.
“He was a kind person, this was Mike. And he doesn’t deserve this and we are not going to go away,” added Margaret Labinjo, Mike’s mother.