Clear

Winnipeg, MB

1°c Clear

Full Forecast

Canada

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Coroner's inquest resumes in fatal RCMP shooting of former soldier

Posted: 01/26/2014 3:01 AM | Comments: 0

Last Modified: 01/30/2014 12:16 PM

Advertisement

  • Print

PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. - A coroner's inquest will resume Monday into the fatal RCMP shooting of a former British Columbia soldier in treatment at the time for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Greg Matters was shot in the back by a member of the RCMP emergency response team in the driveway of the rural home he shared with his mother near Prince George, B.C., on Sept. 10, 2012. He was being arrested for assaulting his older brother.

The two weeks of testimony before the inquest was adjourned in December raised as many questions as it provided answers about the death of the 40-year-old former peacekeeper. The inquest was originally scheduled for just one week.

"I have so many questions," says Greg's mother, Lorraine Matters, for whom the inquest has been emotional and troubling.

The inquest heard last month that Matters was honourably discharged from the military in 2009 after a 15-year career, and was already exhibiting signs of PTSD then.

The seven men and women on the coroner's jury heard that Matters had several run-ins with police, beginning with RCMP in New Brunswick when he was based at CFB Gagetown. He said officers ultimately broke into his home and woke him at gunpoint on a purported "wellness check."

After returning to British Columbia, Matters' former therapist complained to police about threatening emails, and he was charged and acquitted of assaulting his brother. He was jailed for threatening the head of the RCMP public complaints commission over the New Brunswick incident, and later threatened to kill the Crown lawyer in that case.

The emergency response team was sent to his home the night he died to arrest him for assault related to an early-morning confrontation with is brother the day before.

Questions remain about why RCMP deployed the ERT over "what, really, was a fairly minor family dispute," said Cameron Ward, the lawyer for Matters' mother and sister.

"That's the central question: Why was the response by the RCMP such an aggressive one?"

The inquest has also raised some other questions.

A pathologist testified that Matters was shot twice in the back — contrary to a public report released by the province's Independent Investigations Office, clearing police of any wrongdoing.

"That seems at odds a bit with some of the testimony," Ward said.

The jury also heard that Matters was unable to work due to his mental health struggles and a back injury suffered in Bosnia in 2001. He was living with his mother and surviving on a $123-a-month military pension when his sister, from her home in Australia, finally contacted an operational stress injury clinic in Vancouver that took him as a client.

The RCMP officers involved testified they were aware that Matters suffered from PTSD, yet a helicopter and a team of officers dressed in head-to-toe camouflage gear and armed with M16s were sent to arrest him.

Dr. Greg Passey, who operated the stress injury clinic and was treating Matters, testified that RCMP did not allow him to speak to the former soldier as he was surrounded by police in the hours before his death.

"It is my true opinion and conviction that had I been able to speak to Greg that night, I could have talked him out," he told jurors.

The jurors heard that Matters pleaded for help in the years prior to the standoff that night with RCMP. He sent a handwritten note to a court-appointed psychiatrist and was doing well in his work with Passey.

Members of the emergency response team are scheduled to testify this week, as well as the lead investigator from the Independent Investigations Office.

While no officials from the Canadian Forces appear to have been called to testify, there are questions about the level of financial and mental health support Matters received after being discharged from the military, Ward said.

"There are issues, I think, of public concern surrounding the level of support that this veteran received — or lack of it," Ward said.

"As a member of the public and a taxpayer, I'm concerned about what appears to be the inadequacy of the Canadian Forces response."

— By Dene Moore in Vancouver

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.