Friend recounts last conversation with Steven Rigby during inquest into his death
SASKATOON -- Steven Rigby’s best friend and Saskatoon Police Service Cst. Jordan Lapointe recounted the night Rigby died in the first day of the inquest into his death.
Rigby, 27, died on Dec 22, 2018 after a confrontation with police. Lapointe testified talking on the phone with his friend, who had a gun, while simultaneously listening to his police radio, as Rigby was confronted by RCMP and SPS on Circle Drive.
He said he could tell Rigby was terrified, but refused to listen and fired multiple shots out of his car window, while continuously telling him he loved him and was sorry.
Lapointe said he was on the phone with Rigby for nearly an hour and a half, culminating in hearing shots fired by police over the phone, and hearing his friend hit the ground moaning.
He also detailed incidents of his friend’s deteriorating mental health in the months leading up to his death, and said he remembered him making references to dying in a police shootout.
The inquest also heard from a former coworker of Rigby, who said “Steven just couldn’t find peace.”
She says Rigy’s mental health had been declining and that he had attempted suicide.
Both feel Rigby should not have been released from multiple stints in the North Battleford hospital where he was receiving mental health care.
Lapointe says Rigby was good at his job as a salesman and must have sold to the medical staff at the hospital that he was okay.
FATAL GUNSHOT WOUND
The inquest heard from the trauma team leader at Royal University Hospital the night Rigby died, who confirmed three gunshot wounds to the arm, the leg and abdomen. He determined the gunshot wound to the abdomen was fatal.
A forensic pathologist for the Saskatchewan coroners service also testified on day one of the inquest, revealing that Rigby’s blood alcohol level was .26, more than six times the legal limit in Saskatchewan.
They testified that the gunshot wound to the abdomen entered on the back left side of the body just above the hip, fractured the pelvis bone and hit two large blood vessels before exiting the right side.
The inquest had been planned for 2020 but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an interview with CTV News last year, Rigby's mother said she believes his death could have been avoided.
“I do believe that Steven could’ve been saved if he would’ve received the proper help,” Carey Rigby-Wilcox said.
According to a medical report which Rigby-Wilcox shared with CTV News, the 27-year-old was believed to be at acute risk of suicide and had made comments expressing suicidal intent, including provoking police to shoot him.
The document was dated Dec 19, 2018 — three days before Rigby's death.
The inquest is taking place at the Saskatoon Inn Hotel & Conference Centre.
The primary focus of an inquest is to better understand the circumstances surrounding a person's death and inform the public of its findings.
Inquest juries typically offer recommendations about how similar deaths could potentially be avoided in the future.
With files from Pat McKay