The BC Coroners Service began its inquest Monday into the fatal police shooting of James McIntyre outside a Site C meeting in Dawson Creek five years ago.
Presiding coroner Michael Egilson and a jury of five heard testimony from several eyewitnesses, with a slate of RCMP officers expected to testify today.
McIntyre, 48, was shot July 16, 2015, outside a Dawson Creek restaurant where an open house on the Site C dam project was taking place, after allegedly confronting officers with a knife. RCMP were called to the scene after a man flipped tables and tore up posters inside.
At the time, RCMP said they thought the call was for McIntyre, with investigators discovering a day later another man disrupted the event inside the building. Peace Valley farmer Terry Hadland tore down maps and flipped tables, confirmed witnesses.
Witnesses say the shooting was a last resort.
The inquest heard that McIntyre refused to drop the knife after several requests by RCMP, who resorted to pepper spray. The spray did not slow McIntyre, who continued advancing with the knife. Guns were drawn by both officers, with one officer shooting McIntyre in the leg.
It’s alleged the officers then kicked the knife away and began first aid after McIntyre dropped to the ground bleeding. The bullet tore McIntyre's right femoral artery and vein, "causing death through massive blood loss," investigators concluded in late 2016.
The officer who fired the shot was cleared by the Independent Investigations Office, which concluded the actions taken against McIntyre were reasonable. The officers were not equipped with Tasers.
The McIntyre shooting gained international attention in part due to McIntyre’s apparent association with the hacker group Anonymous. In the report, investigators confirmed McIntyre was wearing the Guy Fawkes mask associated with the group.
Peace Liard coroner Merrill Flewelling says he identified McIntyre two days after the shooting, after being called by the Dawson Creek Hospital on July 16, 2015, for a sudden death.
“The identification, which is such an important role, was not established to my satisfaction,” said Flewelling, noting McIntyre’s family was brought in to identify the body.
McIntyre’s family wasn’t able to attend the inquest Monday, but his sister Wanda left a letter with the service that was read before the court.
Wanda stated her brother was a kind and intelligent man, noting he donated to several charities and looked after their aging mother, Veronica. Family previously described McIntyre as an environmentalist who talked regularly about Site C with his 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.”
The inquest is scheduled to continue into next week.
Email reporter Tom Summer at firstname.lastname@example.org