An inquest began Monday in Terrace, B.C., into a fatal shooting by the RCMP's Emergency Response Team.
Rodney Shayne Jackson, 35, was killed in northwestern B.C. in September 2009, several months after he failed to show up for court on criminal charges.
As the inquest began, the courtroom was filled with Gitxsan chiefs and elders, as well as Jackson's family and friends, all wearing buttons with a picture of Jackson and the words "Rodney Jackson will never be forgotten."
Forensic pathologist Dr. Charles Lee took the stand Monday morning, testifying that Jackson died of a single gunshot and that he was shot in the back.
An RCMP reconstructionist who worked on the case later testified he was not informed Jackson was shot in the back before he reconstructed the shooting scene.
The court heard the RCMP's Emergency Response Team was called to a remote hunting cabin in the First Nations village of Kisgagas, north of New Hazelton and about 1,200 kilometres north of Vancouver, on a tip.
Officers surrounded the cabin and Jackson was ultimately shot. He died later in hospital.
Before the proceedings began, a lawyer for Jackson's family asked the coroner to suspend the proceedings because only one of the five inquest jurors was aboriginal, saying the jury was not representative of Jackson's community. The request was denied and the coroner ruled the inquest would continue.
Police response 'questionable'
Cameron Ward, the lawyer for Jackson's family, said there are many unanswered questions about the incident.New Hazelton, B.C.
"Why it was necessary to use an Emergency Response Team, like a SWAT team, to apprehend Mr. Jackson and why it was necessary to shoot him?" Ward said.
"Mr. Jackson did not fire any shots. He was fatally shot by one of the RCMP ERT members."
At the time, police said Jackson had been on the run from police since September 2008 and had six outstanding warrants, five of them criminal. Police said Jackson and a second man who was arrested during the incident were armed with long guns.
"This was not a man wanted for armed robbery or murder or anything of the sort," Ward said. "Why it was necessary for the RCMP to mobilize a seven-person SWAT team armed with M16 assault rifles is questionable to me."
The inquest is scheduled to take place at the B.C. Supreme Court in Terrace from Sept. 12 to 16.
All seven members of the Emergency Response Team are scheduled to testify at the inquest at the Terrace courthouse. Jackson's brother, who witnessed the incident, will also be called to testify.