Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Trial begins for Winnipeg cops accused of shooting unarmed man

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Two Winnipeg police officers are fighting allegations they tried to kill an unarmed criminal by shooting him in the back -- then tried to cover up their wrongdoing by inventing a bogus story.

Const. Darrel Keith Selley, 37 and Const. Kristopher John Overwater, 31, appeared in court Monday for the start of their three-week jury trial. Selley is facing several charges including attempted murder, fabricating evidence, careless use of a firearm and criminal negligence. Overwater is charged with dangerous driving, fabricating evidence and "aiding and abetting."

Special prosecutor Robert Tapper outlined the allegations against the pair in blistering 15-minute opening statement. He told jurors not be swayed by the fact the two accused are police officers, while their victim is a career criminal.

"Go where the evidence takes you," said Tapper. He claims the facts are clear that Selley and Overwater acted "far outside their duties" during the 2007 incident.

Kristofer Shawn Fournier, 23, escaped serious injury after being struck in the buttocks by one of four shots allegedly fired by Selley. The incident began in the early-morning hours of July 16 with an armed robbery at a 7-Eleven store on Portage Avenue at Hampton Street. Several officers responded to the incident and Fournier was spotted driving the stolen Yukon SUV.

Police tried to pull him over -- apparently believing he may have been tied to the holdup -- and a wild, high-speed chase ensued. It ended at the corner of Grant Avenue and Lindsay Street when the cruiser car and SUV collided.

Tapper told jurors Monday that Overwater was driving and ignored orders from his commanding officers to abort the chase. He claims Overwater also lied about his speed and road conditions during the pursuit, which will be proven by GPS readings obtained from the cruiser car.

"He did not want to give up the chase," said Tapper.

Fournier ran away -- not wanting to be caught with a stash of drugs -- and was eventually shot. Tapper claims Selley wildly fired his weapon while running after Fournier. Overwater then laid his own gun next to the downed Fournier, telling other officers the suspect had made a grab for it.

"Law and order and justice is to be dispensed in courtrooms like this. Not the back lanes of residential Winnipeg," Tapper told jurors Monday.

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