Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jurors weigh fate of officers

Accused of shooting suspect, faking facts

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JURORS will resume deliberations this morning to determine the fate of two Winnipeg police officers accused of shooting an unarmed man and then trying to cover it up.

Chief Justice Glenn Joyal finished his instructions to the jury shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday, and jurors began deliberating after dinner.

By press time, a verdict had not been reached.

Both officers were placed on administrative leave from the police force after they were charged in 2009.

Darrel Selley and his partner, Kris Overwater, have pleaded not guilty to a number of charges in connection with a high-speed police chase that began in the early hours of July 16, 2007 and ended minutes later on Lindsay Street near Grant Avenue when Selley shot Fournier in the left buttock.

Among those, Selley, 40, is charged with attempted murder, fabricating evidence, discharging a firearm with intent to wound, aggravated assault with a weapon, careless use of a weapon and criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

Overwater, 32, is charged with fabricating evidence, aiding and abetting discharge of a firearm with intent to wound and aiding and abetting aggravated assault with a weapon.

In a charge that lasted more than three hours, Joyal's instructions boiled down to this:

If jurors believe Selley and Overwater, then they must acquit.

If they don't believe Selley and Overwater, but don't think the Crown proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt, they must acquit.

If they believe the testimony of victim Kristofer Fournier, who maintains he was shot for no reason as he ran away, then they must convict.

"Keep an open mind, but not an empty head," Joyal said shortly before the jury departed.

At the time of their arrest, both were six-year members of the force.

The officers were arrested following an extensive internal investigation by the professional standards unit and consultation with Manitoba Justice officials and a private legal counsel.

Jurors heard two markedly different versions of what happened that night during closing arguments Tuesday.

Special prosecutor Robert Tapper portrayed the two officers as renegade cops hell-bent on meting out some street justice to Fournier, a known crack cocaine dealer who had led them on a dangerous high-speed police chase south across the northbound span of the Maryland Bridge and into River Heights.

Tapper said the crux of the case is jurors must hold the two officers accountable for their actions.

"We do not allow vigilante justice in Canada, especially (for) those in a police uniform," Tapper told the six-woman, six-man jury.

"The law does not permit the police to execute the bad guy."

Tapper also said the two cooked up a story of Fournier wrestling Overwater's gun away during a brief struggle in the darkened back lane and then pointing it at Selley seconds later.

Defence lawyers Richard Wolson and Hymie Weinstein told jurors Tuesday the Crown's case and Fournier's allegations are not believable.

Each told the jury Fournier is a habitual liar whose word cannot be trusted.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 7, 2013 A4

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