Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Wounded suspect takes stand

-- Cops on trial after he was shot in butt -- He's in custody on a new warrant

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He admits he's a drug-dealing, car-stealing pain in the side of law enforcement who would stop at nothing to get away.

But despite his obvious character flaws, there is no disputing one other fact about Kristofer Fournier: He has a bullet lodged in his buttocks, courtesy of the Winnipeg Police Service.

Fournier, 23, swears he was an innocent victim of two rogue cops who decided to dish out some "street justice," only to get caught in the act when their bogus story fell apart. He took the witness stand Tuesday to detail a disturbing 2007 incident which has put the pair of officers on trial.

Const. Darrel Keith Selley, 37, is facing several charges, including attempted murder, fabricating evidence, careless use of a firearm and criminal negligence. Const. Kristopher John Overwater, 31, is charged with dangerous driving, fabricating evidence,and "aiding and abetting."

Fournier admitted he was behind the wheel of a stolen Yukon SUV when police began chasing him, believing he may have been involved in a nearby armed robbery of a 7-Eleven store. He doesn't dispute driving at excessive speeds through residential neighbourhoods while high on meth and carrying cocaine in his pocket.

But Fournier insists he did nothing more than run away on foot after his vehicle spun out at an intersection. Moments later, he was ducking bullets as somebody yelled, "Shoot him, (expletive) shoot him."

The first three shots missed but the fourth hit him in the buttocks.

"I didn't think what I'd done deserved being shot at with an actual weapon," Fournier said in court Tuesday. "My leg went numb and I collapsed."

His credibility is going to be a major issue for jurors and immediately came under attack from defence lawyers during cross-examination. Hymie Weinstein and Richard Wolson grilled him about his extensive criminal past, which includes convictions for auto theft and drug-dealing.

Fournier told jurors he's a changed man today, having obtained a full-time job, moved out of the city and found a steady relationship.

"I look back and don't even recognize that person," Fournier said.

But defence lawyers dropped a bit of a bombshell Tuesday afternoon when they revealed there is a warrant outstanding for Fournier for new criminal charges. Sheriff's officers took him into custody when he left the witness stand.

Weinstein and Wolson also accused Fournier of calling jurors "(expletive) jokes" during one court break Tuesday, and of mouthing the words "you're dead" to one of the officers during another recess. He denied both allegations.

In his opening statement Monday, prosecutor Robert Tapper warned jurors not to be swayed by the fact the two accused are police officers and their victim is someone they might typically look down upon. Tapper said the evidence is clear that some major misconduct took place.

"Law and order and justice is to be dispensed in courtrooms like this, not the back lanes of residential Winnipeg," Tapper said. "Go where the evidence takes you."

Tapper told jurors Monday that Overwater was driving and ignored orders from his commanding officers to abort the chase. He alleges Overwater 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," Tapper said.

Fournier ran away, not wanting to be caught with a stash of drugs, and was shot despite posing no apparent threat to the officers and having no weapon, Tapper said.

He said Selley fired his weapon while running after Fournier, and Overwater then allegedly placed his own gun next to the wounded, handcuffed Fournier, telling other officers the suspect had made a grab for it.

"These two gentlemen were acting outside their duties as police officers," said Tapper.

The trial continues.

www.mikeoncrime.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 23, 2013 B1

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