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Officer recounts final moments before he shot Brydon Whitstone
Published Wednesday, December 5, 2018 6:41PM CST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 5, 2018 10:08PM CST
The RCMP officer who fatally shot Brydon Whitstone said he pulled the trigger because he truly believed the 22-year-old had a gun.
Cst. Jerry Abbott testified that he arrived at the crash scene when the car Whitstone was driving was already boxed in by police vehicles at the intersection of 15th Ave. and 105th St. in North Battleford, but Whitstone was still trying to drive forward and reverse to get away.
Abbott said he took cover, drew his gun and narrowed his focus on Whitstone in the driver’s seat. He said officers, including himself, were shouting at Whitstone to put up his hands. Abbott testified at one point Whitstone did put his hands on the steering wheel, which is when Abbott said he lowered his gun and approached the car. He said it was then Whitstone appeared to reach for something in his pocket which he thought was a gun, so he shot the Onion Lake man twice in the chest.
Earlier this week, jurors heard that Whitstone didn’t have a gun, though he did have ammunition in his pocket and in his stomach.
Abbott and other officers testified that with help, Abbott pulled Whitstone out the driver-side window, handcuffed Whitstone and then began performing CPR. He said EMS arrived quickly to take over, so he sat by a nearby tree to begin taking notes, which he said was difficult because his hands were shaking and covered in blood. Abbott said his supervisor then took him to a police vehicle, where he was told to wait.
Several other officers who were on duty the night of Oct. 21, 2017 testified Wednesday. All had similar recollections of the fatal incident, many referring to it as a “chaotic,” “tense,” and “high-risk” situation.
Jurors heard earlier in the inquest that this all began when RCMP got a call that someone on foot had been shot at from someone in a car. An RCMP officer began pursuing the car Whitstone was driving because it matched the description. Instead of pulling over, Whitsone led the officer on a short chase through a residential North Battleford neighbourhood, before colliding with two police cruisers. He then continued to be uncooperative with police commands until he was shot.
The vehicle was stolen; however it’s unclear whether Whitstone knew that.
There were some inconsistencies among officers, mostly relating to who was where at what time.
Whitstone’s parents both spoke outside the courthouse following Abbott’s testimony. His mother, Dorothy Laboucane, said Whitstone was a loving father, brother and son, and she will never forgive Abbott for taking her son’s life.
“Cst. Abbott took my son. The pain, I carry every day. And I will forever, physically, every day as I struggle.”
No charges were laid against Abbott following an external investigation by the Regina Police Service.
She said she believes he fled from police because he was on probation and had already breached a lot of his conditions, including a curfew.
Several witnesses have yet to testify in this inquest.
The jury is scheduled to render its decision and provide recommendation to prevent similar deaths on Friday.