No decision from Sask. inquest on Indigenous man shot by RCMP
BATTLEFORD A coroner’s inquest jury has been unable to determine if the fatal shooting of an Indigenous man by RCMP was a homicide or a suicide.
Brydon Whitstone was killed in October 2017 after crashing through two police cars following a pursuit.
Coroner Robert Kennedy had asked the jury to decide whether Whitstone’s death was a homicide, a suicide or couldn’t be determined.
The inquest heard Whitstone had both meth and alcohol in his body at the time of his death and had told his passenger he wanted to die.
The jury suggested that similar deaths could be prevented if RCMP officers used stun guns to immobilize a suspect rather than using a firearm. Whitstone’s mother, Dorothy Laboucane, says she is disappointed and the outcome won’t bring back her son.
An RCMP sergeant testified at the inquest that he released pepper spray inside the car that Whitstone was in but he did not react to it.
Const. Jerry Abbott, the officer who fired the shots, told the inquest that Whitstone appeared to reach for something in his pocket. Abbott thought it was a gun, so he shot the man from Onion Lake, Sask., twice in the chest.
Before the jury came to its verdict, Kennedy said suicide doesn’t have to be self-inflicted to be legally considered as such.
The Saskatchewan RCMP responded to the jury’s decision with condolences to Whitstone’s family.
“The RCMP will examine the recommendation coming out of the coroner’s inquest and provide a response to the chief coroner,” RCMP said in a release Friday.
“It is important to remember that no matter what the investigations into this incident have determined, a young man lost his life. His family and friends are grieving his loss.”
An investigation by Regina police determined no criminal charges should be filed against police.
Brydon Whitstone was killed October 2017 after crashing through two police cars following a pursuit. A coroner’s inquest was unable to determine if Whitstone’s death was a homicide or suicide.