An RCMP officer will go on trial in Duncan, B.C., today, charged with aggravated assault for shooting an unarmed man during a traffic stop nearly three years ago in the Vancouver Island community.

Duncan, B.C.

Duncan, B.C.

Constable David Pompeo pulled over Chemainus resident William Gillespie for allegedly driving while prohibited in September 2009.

At the time, Gillespie said he was complying with the officer's order to get on the ground, when he was shot through the neck.

An internal RCMP code of conduct investigation found Pompeo guilty of disgraceful conduct.

He was put on desk duty at the Duncan RCMP detachment after the incident, but was later transferred to Nanaimo RCMP, where he is on active duty.

Victoria police also investigated the incident, resulting in the charge laid by Crown prosecutors.

David Eby, the executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said it's unusual to see criminal charges against police officers actually going to trial.

"This case is a reflection of a slow shift in British Columbia around increasing police accountability and increasing use of the criminal justice system to actually lay charges and to go to court," said Eby.

"So many of these cases, the officer is charged and then it's diverted from the criminal process through some kind of community service or a letter of apology."

Eby said he plans to attend the trial in Duncan this week and Gillespie is expected to testify.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the shooting victim William Gillespie as David Gillespie.
    Oct 04, 2012 4:00 PM PT