The two police officers charged following a chase that resulted in a suspect being shot didn’t "back off" their pursuit as instructed, but sped up instead, their trial heard this morning.
The court heard a real-time audio recording of the police dispatcher communicating with the cruiser. The chase near six years ago took less than 20 minutes and ended up with a suspect shot in the butt and two police officers facing serious charges.
Const. Darrel Keith Selley is charged with attempted murder using a firearm and criminal negligence causing bodily harm in the shooting of Kristofer Shaun Fournier. He and Const. Kristopher John Overwater have pleaded not guilty to intending to wound Fournier by firing a Glock .40-calibre handgun, aggravated assault and obstruction of justice.
The chase began after two masked men armed with a knife held up a 7-Eleven in St. James at Portage Avenue and Hampton Street at 2:35 a.m. on July 16, 2007. They took off down a back lane and drove away in an SUV. Police responded right away looking for them.
The court heard audio recordings of the police dispatcher and officers as they pursued the suspects from St. James through the West End, up and down the sleepy streets and back lanes of Wolseley, over the Maryland Bridge and into River Heights.
At one point, the dispatcher instructed Overwater and Selley to "back off and keep him in sight."
Sgt. Chris Patts, an investigator with the police professional standards unit in 2007, said he reviewed the audio and the GPS recording from the pursuit and the officers didn’t back off when they were told.
"Their speeds increased," said Patts. The cruiser went from 82 kilometres per hour to 106 km-h seconds before the "back off" instruction came from dispatch, he said. After receiving it, the cruiser sped up to 133 kilometres per hour, then 135 kilometres per hour then began to let off the gas, slowing down to 56 kilometres per hour 21 seconds after receiving the "back off" instruction.
Patts testified that "back off" doesn’t mean to abort the pursuit but to "slow down and provide the suspect with time and distance," he said. If police in pursuit back off, the suspects may feel that they’re getting away, Patts said. When the situation calms, it’s safer for everyone and if the suspects don’t feel they’re being chased, they’re easier to apprehend, he said.
A bullet hit Fournier, 23, in his buttocks after three other shots missed him. Court has been told he was shot after leading police on a high-speed chase because he was high on meth and had cocaine on him.
He said the bullet struck him as he ran down a back alley near Grant Avenue and Lindsey Street after hearing somebody yell, "Shoot him, (expletive) shoot him."