A five person jury deliberating at an inquiry into the fatal police shooting of James McIntyre outside a Site C open house in 2015 delivered its verdict and recommendations last week.
The jury has five recommendations, including those for the RCMP, the Independent Investigations Office, and the BC Coronors Service. It was noted that McIntyre’s death was due to a gunshot to the leg, and was classified as a “homicide.”
The first three recommendations were directed at the RCMP: “stop the bleed” training at Depot and upgrading to Level 2 first aid, that first aid kits with tourniquets and hemostatic gauze are to be carried in all RCMP vehicles, and that training scenarios should be extended until the officer’s duties are completed.
The jury heard from experts who said live action scenarios need to run to completion, while officers testified with concerns about their level of first aid training.
“RCMP officers were unsure, and some had been purchasing and carrying their own supplies,” the jury foreman noted in their verdict before presiding coroner Michael Egilson
Cst. Nick Brown, the former Dawson Creek police officer who shot and killed McIntyre, testified before the inquest and compared the incident to a training scenario gone too far.
“I was lost on what I should be doing, because the scenario was done now and I didn’t know what else to do,” said Brown, via video from his home and concealing his face with a mask.
Brown and his colleague Cst. Sandy Tookeea were called to a disturbance at the Stonebridge Hotel on July 16, 2015, after local farmer Terry Hadland started a scene by flipping tables.
Hadland had left by the time they arrived, and the officers were confronted by McIntyre, wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and carrying a switchblade, outside the hotel.
Both Brown and Tookeea said McIntyre refused to comply with orders, resulting in the use of pepper spray from Tookeea and a fatal gunshot from Brown.
“We believed he was coming at us, we kept giving commands, and responded by swearing at us and not complying,” said Tookeea.
Brown told court he didn’t aim, shooting McIntyre in his thigh.
“At that point I just fired my weapon,” said Brown. “He was close enough I didn’t have to aim. I didn’t aim for any particular area to stop him from advancing on me.”
McIntyre fell to the ground and died from extreme blood loss due to the bullet hitting an artery. He was 48. Officers testified that first aid was attempted before McIntyre was taken to hospital by paramedics and later declared dead at hospital.
Use of force, firearms training, and incident management training are required to be completed annually for officers, with scenario based training every three years. Before the incident, Brown was due for scenario training.
Dawson Creek RCMP commander Staff Sgt. Damon Werrell testified and detailed how training is handled in remote communities. He was not stationed in Dawson Creek at the time of the shooting.
“As a commander I’m responsible to ensure everyone is up to date on their mandatory training, there’s unique circumstances that sometimes arise when going over their mandatory training dates,” said Werrell.
Brown was cleared by the IIO in 2016, concluding his actions were justified. He did not speak with IIO investigators and did not provide any written notes or report to the agency after the shooting, breaking his silence at last week’s inquest. He has since retired from the force.
“If charges were to go through, anything I said could have been used against me,” said Brown, calling the silence isolating. “I was not allowed to say anything to anybody. My wife, the psychologist, no one.”
The remaining two recommendations suggested the Independent Investigation Office open an office in Prince George to better serve northern B.C. — the jury heard the IIO team could not arrive on scene of the shooting until the following day — and that the Coroners Service follow up with witnesses to ensure they have access to statements before testifying at inquests.
Terry Hadland, the farmer who disrupted the meeting and trigged the series of events, was not called as a witness for the inquest, and BC Hydro did not press charges at the time of his disturbance.
The McIntyre shooting gained international attention in part due to McIntyre’s apparent association with the hacker group Anonymous. McIntyre was wearing the Guy Fawkes mask associated with the group, and members claimed responsibility for a number of cyberattacks following the shooting, including on the RCMP and City of Dawson Creek websites.
Family described McIntyre as a quiet man who built elaborate model train layouts and started a recycling program at work. His sister Wanda provided a letter that was read before the inquest. She said her brother was a kind and intelligent man, noting he donated to several charities and looked after their aging mother.
“Jim was a very easy person to get along from young or old. He had the utmost respect for his elders and would help any way he could,” wrote Wanda. “He also had a big heart and was extremely generous, he lived quite modestly, and would always say he didn’t need much.”
— with files from Matt Preprost, Rob Brown
Email reporter Tom Summer at email@example.com.