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Officers testify in Site C shooting inquest

The former Dawson Creek police officer who shot and killed James McIntyre outside a Site C open house five years ago testified today before a provincial coroners inquest.

RCMP constables Nick Brown Sandy Tookeea were called to the Stonebridge Hotel on July 16, 2015, after a farmer started flipping tables at the meeting. By the time they arrived, the farmer had left and the officers were confronted by McIntyre, wearing a mask and carrying a switchblade, outside the hotel as they were leaving.

“He had tried to hide it, saying we didn’t need to worry about,” said Brown, who testified by video from his home, and wearing a mask that concealed his face. “I reacted, screaming, saying he’s got a knife and needs to drop it.”

Tookeea said McIntyre refused to comply and that he pepper sprayed him. The spray had little effect, and McIntyre continued to advance at the officers, who had drawn their pistols.

“We believed he was coming at us, we kept giving commands, and responded by swearing at us and not complying,” said Tookeea.

That’s when Brown opened fire, 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 dropped to the ground and quickly died from blood less after the bullet tore his right femoral artery and vein. He was 48.

Brown was cleared by the Independent Investigations Office in 2016, which concluded his actions were justified.

Until today, Brown has been silent on the matter, and has since retired from the force. He did not speak with IIO investigators and did not provide any written notes or report to the agency.

“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.”

Officers testified that first aid was attempted before McIntyre was taken to hospital where he was declared dead.

At the time, tasers were not available to RCMP.

Tookeea testified they would have been useless as McIntyre was wearing a hoodie that would have prevented the electrical probes from making contact with his skin. 

Two knives were seized by Tookeea, including the switchblade and a dagger found in McIntyre’s back pocket. 

Cst. Matthew Anderson arrived on scene soon after, brandishing a twelve gauge shotgun. He justified the weapon and told court he was concerned his fellow officers might have been under fire.

“The reason I deployed the shotgun because I heard on the radio that shots had been fired, I didn’t know if that was from us or towards us,” said Anderson.

Terry Hadland, the farmer who disrupted the meeting and trigged the series of events, has not been called as a witness for the inquest.

The RCMP officers spoke with BC Hydro representatives at the time, who did not press charges. 

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.

Anonymous members claimed responsibility for a number of cyber attacks following the shooting, including on the RCMP and City of Dawson Creek websites.

In interviews after the shooting, family described McIntyre as a quiet man who built elaborate model train layouts, started a recycling program at work and lived in the same apartment building as his mother. 

Email reporter Tom Summer at tsummer@ahnfsj.ca.

Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News

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