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Negotiating training focus of third day of Megeney inquest
Published Wednesday, June 26, 2019 6:17PM CST
Last Updated Wednesday, June 26, 2019 6:33PM CST
Officers who responded to a fatal standoff say they didn’t have any formal negotiation training.
At the third day of an inquest into the shooting death of Joshua Megeney, three officers testified they relied on job experience to communicate with him.
Megeney was found dead behind a locked and barricaded door at a house on Avenue Q North on Oct. 6, 2016.
Officers had been called for a break-and-enter in progress. Cst. Blake Atkinson, who testified he fired two shots that day, said he was tasked with giving verbal commands to the suspect.
Both the Megeney family lawyer and the jury asked Atkinson why officers rammed in the door, rather than waiting for a specialized team of crisis negotiators that was on its way.
Atkinson answered that it was the job of the officers on scene to open lines of communication.
Sgt. Thomas John Gresty – who testified in 2018 to kneeing 21-year-old Jordan Lafond three or four times in the head during an arrest – also testified Wednesday.
Gresty, who led the tactical support team at the time, choked up as he recalled being told members of his team had been involved in a “major incident” and shots were fired.
He testified that he entered the room and found Megeney's body.
"I lifted up the drape and I could see an obvious gunshot wound to the head," he said.
Scott Spencer, Megeney’s family lawyer, asked Gresty if he thinks officers should have waited for the crisis negotiator team before breaching the door.
He disagreed and said his team responded to the situation correctly – Megeney’s mother shook her head, letting out sighs and cries at his response.
Canine officer Cst. Joel Lalonde, a 16-year veteran who also responded to the call, said he saw a suspect inside a room with a rifle and believed he was going to get shot.
Lalonde looked at the jury teary-eyed and told them he broke down after the incident, and said he tells his wife he’s not the same person she married.
When asked why the dog wasn't used instead of ramming in door, he said deploying the dog with door still closed wouldn't have been helpful.
“A dog is not an effective tool to a lethal threat,” he said.
The jury has been vocal throughout the inquest, asking questions to help come up with recommendations to prevent similar deaths.
Some witnesses have said having negotiation training and hiring full-time tactical officers would help.