Officer who fatally shot Brydon Whitstone testifies at inquest
The RCMP officer who fatally shot Brydon Whitstone last year said he believed Whitstone was reaching for a gun and that’s why he pulled the trigger.
Const. Jerry Abbott testified on the third day of a coroner’s inquest into Whitstone’s death at the Court of Queen’s Bench in Battleford, Sask.
Whitstone, 22, of Onion Lake, Sask., was shot and killed following a brief pursuit in North Battleford on Oct. 21, 2017 .
Abbott said he was the second responder to arrive on the scene, where he could see Whitstone’s car trying to move back and forth.
As Abbott approached the scene on foot, he said he had a good line of sight on Whitstone, as the car windows had been smashed out.
After drawing his pistol, Abbott said he started to lower it to his gun holster as he approached the car because he thought Whitstone was surrendering to police by putting his hands up on the steering wheel.
“The driver turned away from me and started digging into his pants,” Abbott testified.
Abbott said Whitstone reached with both hands to his pocket, then stopped and looked him straight in the face and continued to reach back in.
“It was at that point that I shot him,” Abbott said.
“I believed he was going to grab a gun.”
In his testimony, Abbott said he proceeded to handcuff Whitstone, pull him out of the car window and perform CPR until paramedics arrived.
No gun was ever found in Whitstone’s car, but 13 bullets were found in his clothing and another live round was later found in his stomach, court heard on Monday.
RCMP received a report earlier the same evening about a man claiming to be shot at and chased by four people in a white four-door car. The car Whitstone was driving matched the description of the car, initiating the pursuit.
No criminal charges were laid following an independent external investigation by Regina Police Service.
On Wednesday, four other constables who were also on the scene that night described their version of the events.
Whitstone’s mother said she hopes for some answers this week but said the inquest hasn’t provided any closure.
“We thank God for 22 precious years with him but grief for the life that he was denied by the actions of the RCMP, who shattered and devastated our family,” Whitstone’s mother, Dorothy Laboucane, said.
The purpose of the inquest is to determine the medical cause and manner of Whitstone’s death.
The coroner’s jury can also make recommendations to prevent similar deaths.
Three more people are expected to testify on Thursday, with jury deliberations expected to end on Friday.
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