First witnesses provide details on what transpired

Witness says Whitstone sought 'suicide by police'

Testimony is now underway in the inquest into the death of Brydon Whitstone in an RCMP member-involved shooting in North Battleford.
The jury of six individuals was seated Monday morning at Queen’s Bench Court in Battleford and testimony began soon after before coroner Robert Kennedy. Whitstone’s parents Dorothy Laboucane and Albert Whitstone were both in attendance in court throughout the day.
The proceedings on Monday mainly focused on police testimony from three individuals, as well as the 911 call and videos from the scene of the incident.
The first witness called was Sgt. Rob Zentner of RCMP Major Crimes Unit based out of Saskatoon. He provided details on what had transpired on the night of Oct 21.
Zentner testified he had been initially called at 9:48 p.m. from one of the other investigators in their office about preliminary information on a police-related shooting in North Battleford. At 10 p.m., he was called back with confirmation of the fatal shooting, and brief details that there had been a police pursuit and multiple members were involved, and that the scene had been secured.
Zentner travelled to North Battleford and was on the scene by just after 1 a.m., and testified RCMP Major Crimes wanted to make sure the intersection of 15th Avenue and 105th Street was protected until an external agency could arrive and take over.
The investigation was under Zentner’s authority for the first several hours until the arrival of Regina Police Service the next morning, at which point the investigation was turned over to them.
His first contact with Regina Police was at 8:05 a.m. on Oct. 22, Zentner testified.
Zentner then testified extensively on what was written in the supplementary occurrence report on the incident, prepared the day after the incident.
In that summary, it was noted on Oct. 21 at 8:55 p.m., F Division reported they had received a complaint of a male being chased by four individuals in a white four door car. While being chased, a shot was fired on the ground near the male.
North Battleford members were subsequently dispatched and conducted patrols of the area. A 911 call was also recorded reporting someone had been shot at.
At 9:30 p.m., according to the report, a vehicle matching the description was located in the area of 16th Avenue and 105th Street. A short pursuit of 20-30 seconds commenced involving five police cars, two of which were rammed by the suspect vehicle; one member of the RCMP suffered minor injuries.
There was an attempt to stop the suspect vehicle using sirens and lights, but the vehicle refused to pull over and stop. Zentner noted one of the police vehicles had ended up up against a fence at a house; the other had some damage but was still drivable.
According to the police report, the suspect vehicle became immobilized on a nearby property at 15th Avenue and 105th Street, and was subsequently boxed in by two police cars. Verbal commands were made by members to the occupants (a male and female) to exit the vehicle, however, the vehicle engine continued to rev and the occupants inside refused to comply. Members approached and then smashed out the front driver’s and passenger side windows. Additional demands to comply were given, but the male driver ignored them and was seen reaching down to his waist area.
It was Zentner’s understanding the male driver was Brydon Whitstone and the female passenger was Amanda Wahobin.
On the stand, Zentner then referred to the next paragraph of the police report that stated RCMP Cst. Jerry Abbott had discharged his service pistol, striking the occupant in the chest.
EMS subsequently attended to the scene, but Whitstone was pronounced deceased en route to the hospital at 9:38 p.m.
Wahobin was arrested on other outstanding matters and lodged in cells. She was interviewed on the initial complaint by RCMP, and again later by Regina Police Service.
Zentner was later asked his perspective on how often a pistol is discharged by RCMP members and answered it is quite rare. He recalled having his own pistol out on a number of occasions but he never had to use it. He also said it was common for many RCMP officers to never fire a pistol in their careers. 
It was the local RCMP detachment who personally notified the next of kin. Constables informed the brother of Whitstone of his passing just past 4 a.m.
Zentner was also asked about steps made to confirm the identity of Whitstone; he said the ID of the driver was confirmed by responding members who were familiar with Whitstone.
Zentner returned to the stand in the afternoon following a lunch break. The afternoon session was dominated by the playing of the 911 audio from Oct. 21, as well as the playing of eight cell phone videos from the scene taken from four different eyewitnesses.
The 911 recording was of a call from Archie Nicotine at 8:54 p.m. Oct. 21, 2017, respecting his nephew. The caller initially asked if anyone had reported about gunshots in and around North Battleford, and he later mentioned his “nephew was being chased by boys with guns,” and that “one of them had shot at the ground when he fired.”
That was followed by the playing of the eight cell phone videos for the jury.
The first were three videos from Summer Nicotine, with the sounds of two gun shots clearly audible in the first video played.
Next were three cell phone videos obtained from eyewitness Wayne Warren, in which the white four-door vehicle was clearly identifiable.
That was followed by video shot by Deborah Dugan, which also included a clearly audible sound of two gun shots followed by shouts of “get on the ground!” Sgt. Zentner confirmed those shouts were directed to Wahobin.
Video from Shane Hartley was also played which also included the sounds of two gun shots, as well as a voice urging him to “get inside now!”
The second witness called Monday was Detective Sgt. Pierre Beauchesne of Regina Police Service.
Beauchesne testified he and three others from Regina Police Service came up to the Battlefords for the investigation. He confirmed his team arrived around 11:50 a.m. on Oct. 22.
They attended Battlefords detachment, and Regina Police Service was then tasked with interviewing Cst. Abbott, the individual who had discharged the pistol, and Amanda Wahobin, who was interviewed Oct. 22.
Beauchesne testified Wahobin had described the police chase and had mentioned she had asked Whitstone to stop, and he replied, “Sorry, baby, f­--  that.”
Beauchesne also testified Wahobin had recalled police telling them to put their hands up and to “quit looking for something,” and she recalled police thought Whitstone had a weapon because he had “kept digging in his pants pretending to have one.”
Wahobin stated Whitstone did not have a weapon, Beauchesne said. Wahobin also stated to police that earlier that same day Whitstone indicated he “wanted to die because of what was going on in his life;” he was pretending to have a weapon because he “wanted to die.”
Beauchesne added that Wahobin said, “I think this was suicide by police...  he had nothing and kept pretending he did.”
Beauchesne later explained that the term “suicide by police” refers to a situation where police are put in a position where they have no choice but to open fire upon the suspect.
Beauchesne later spoke about the interview Regina Police Service had with Cst. Abbott. 
In that interview, Abbott told police that he had taken cover behind a tree at the scene, and as others approached the vehicle he was able to approach the front pillar of the driver’s side of the vehicle. The window was smashed out, he had his firearm drawn and was issuing commands to those in the vehicle demanding to see their hands. 
He saw the male put his hands on the steering wheel with his hands up, at which point Abbott believed there was compliance, but then he saw Whitstone put his hand in his pants and he described it as putting it in his pants, leaning backwards, and making motions that he had something.
At that point, said Beauchesne, believing there was an imminent threat to life, Abbott shot Whitstone twice.
Beauchesne also spoke of the autopsy and postmortem examination, which included the evidence of the live round inside of Whitstone’s stomach. Beauchesne also testified about a black sock with several unspent 22 caliber rounds, which was found in Whitstone’s jacket.
This backed up earlier testimony from Zentner who had also spoken about the 13 rounds of .22 calibre ammunition found on Whitstone; Zentner had also spoken about the live round in his stomach.
The third witness called Monday was Jeff Soroka of the RCMP. Soroka’s testimony focused on dash-cam video shot from the police vehicles that drove to the incident.
The first one lasted three minutes and showed a police vehicle activating its lights and pulling up to the scene across from another RCMP vehicle.
It was noted only three of the police vehicles in North Battleford at the time of the shooting had these video cameras installed and operational; now the entire fleet of 18 has them.
Soroka’s testimony concluded the day’s proceedings; the plan was to resume testimony at the court house at 9:30 a.m. the next day. A total of 18 names are on the list of witnesses, with both Cst. Abbott and Amanda Wahobin included among those to be called by week’s end.
 

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