A Saskatoon police officer was choked up as he recalled the look in Jordan Lafond’s eyes the moment he realized the man he had just kneed in the head needed medical help.
Sgt. Thomas Gresty told the inquest into 21-year-old Lafond’s death he delivered “three or four” knee strikes to Lafond’s head following a police pursuit in the early morning hours of Oct. 23, 2016.
Lafond had a swollen and bloodied left eye and a “hundred mile gaze,” Gresty said.
“I knew I didn’t do that,” he stated, testifying that his blows were to the top of Lafond’s head, not the front of his face.
Gresty said he was confused by the amount of damage on the stolen F150 that crashed through a chain-link fence near Bethlehem Collegiate.
According to the officer, the crash didn’t appear significant enough to cause such extensive damage.
“My overwhelming feeling was ‘what the hell just happened?’” he told the inquest.
He told coroner’s counsel Lafond was on his stomach, while Const. Kelly Olafson was trying to put handcuffs on him.
With each hit, Gresty said he told Lafond to stop resisting.
Under heated cross-examination by Chris Murphy, a lawyer representing the Lafond family at the inquest, Gresty said his actions were based on his perception that the 21-year-old was trying to escape.
According to his testimony Tuesday, Gresty later became confident that what he perceived was wrong and that Olafson was struggling to handcuff the suspect.
The constable’s strength could have been making Lafond’s arms, legs and body move, Gresty said, describing the revelation as “a disgusting feeling.”
“Do you think I’m happy sitting here in front of the Lafond family, saying I kneed their son in the head?” He asked Murphy.
“No I’m not.”
An autopsy revealed Lafond died of a traumatic head injury, though pathologists couldn’t determine whether it was caused by police force or the truck crash.
The truck’s driver, Reece Fiddler, 22, took the stand Tuesday afternoon.
Fiddler said he couldn’t recall what caused the crash, but remembered losing consciousness and waking up without seeing Lafond leave the vehicle.
Fiddler testified to climbing through the passenger window with his hands up and was handcuffed by police. Last September, he was sentenced to four years in prison for his involvement in the crash.
The 22-year-old said officers also used force on him, though the five-woman, one-man jury heard there were inconsistencies between his statement to police and his testimony.
The inquest is scheduled to conclude Friday and is meant to determine Lafond’s cause of death.
Jurors will have an opportunity to make recommendations to prevent similar deaths from happening in the future.