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Sask. inquest sees video of police chase that led to capture of Myles Sanderson

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A coroner’s inquest in Saskatoon saw dramatic dash cam footage of the highway pursuit that ended the three-day manhunt for Myles Sanderson in September 2022.

The inquest, which started Monday, will determine how Sanderson died almost immediately after being taken into police custody, and why it took three days for 100 police officers in the area to find the most wanted man in western Canada.

On Sept. 4, 2022, Sanderson killed 11 people and injured 17 more in a brutal stabbing spree in the communities of James Smith Cree Nation and the village of Weldon. Last month, a separate inquest into those deaths offered insight into the days that led up to the killings.

The jury heard Sanderson was awake for days, drinking and selling cocaine before the violence started.

On Monday afternoon, RCMP Supt. Devin Pugh laid out the final day of the province-wide manhunt through recordings of police radio conversations and dash cam footage of the final chase.

The jury saw RCMP follow his stolen white Chevy Avalanche into a gas station just outside the town of Rosthern, about 66 kilometres north of Saskatoon. When Sanderson sped through the ditch to return to the highway, the chase began.

Sanderson drove southward in the northbound lane of busy Saskatchewan Highway 11, driving past oncoming traffic at high speeds. The inquest heard police calling for officers to block traffic further up the road so they could attempt to force his truck off the road using what’s commonly known as a pit maneuver.

Pugh testified RCMP officers are generally instructed not to make contact with suspect vehicles, but he felt the risk to the public warranted drastic measures.

"I've never seen, in my career, somebody that was aiming at traffic at a high rate of speed in the wrong lane with that volume of traffic," said Pugh.

"It was incredibly high risk. Incredibly high risk."

James Smith Chief Wally Burns told reporters the video was painful to watch.

"I think it was traumatizing because, if you take a look at it, they just about lost their lives, too."

After several kilometres dodging police and oncoming cars, the video showed Sanderson cross the ditch into the southbound lane. An officer used their vehicle to nudge the rear end of the stolen Chevy Avalanche and it spun out, coming to a stop in the ditch with his airbags deployed.

Police came out with guns drawn. One of the officers cautioned they saw Sanderson reaching for something.

One of the police officers opened the driver’s side door. The inquest heard another officer call out that they recovered a knife from the passenger side.

“Get out of the vehicle. Get out of the f**king vehicle,” the police said.

From the dash cam of an RCMP vehicle facing the driver’s side door of the Avalanche, there was a clear look at where Sanderson was sitting, but his face was obscured by the airbag.

With four or five officers huddled around, Sanderson was pulled from the truck and forced onto the ground. It was impossible to get a sense of his condition from the brief glimpse in the footage.

Pugh said Sanderson went into medical distress after he was walked from the crash site to a police vehicle. He said one of the arresting officers was a former paramedic and initiated first aid around 3:35 p.m., after realizing something was wrong with Sanderson.

On Tuesday, the inquest will hear from a Saskatoon Police Service sergeant who will describe their role in the three-day search, and explain how his officers handle arrest warrants that come in when people on supervised release from prison breach their conditions.

This could be the first time Saskatoon police describe what efforts they made to find Sanderson in the months before his brutal rampage.

In the last inquest, the jury heard Sanderson breached the conditions of his statutory release multiple times, usually by making contact with or living with the mother of his children, Vanessa Burns. His parole officer testified Burns’ Saskatoon residence would be a likely place to find him if he broke contact.

There was an arrest warrant out for Sanderson for months before he committed the mass killing, and Burns testified he was living with her for about a month prior to the incident.

-With files from Stacey Hein

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