No de­ci­sion from Sask. in­quest on Indige­nous man shot by RCMP

Regina Leader-Post - - CITY + REGION -

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.

MOR­GAN MODJESKI FILES

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.

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