bc-080602-DonLewis1

Donald Dwayne Lewis, seen in an undated photo, was shot by an RCMP officer near Williams Lake in 2006. ((Courtesy of Sara Lewis))

An American man shot by the RCMP near Williams Lake, B.C., died while he was handcuffed to a tree, a coroner's inquest heard Monday.

Donald Dwayne Lewis, 43, died on Aug. 13, 2006, following an altercation with a Williams Lake RCMP officer near McLeese Lake, off Highway 97.

On Monday, the first day of the inquest, excerpts from 911 and dispatch calls were played in the court.

"I have one suspect in custody. He's currently cuffed to a tree,"  RCMP Const. Cole Brewer is heard saying on one of the recordings.

"He's been shot, OK? And I just have some injuries from a fight. To my knowledge there's only one suspect. He's cuffed with one set of cuffs behind the back and the second one is to a tree. He has a gunshot wound to his abdomen/hip area."

The RCMP officer had responded to a call about a suspicious man illegally camping on private property, the inquest heard.

Brewer testified on Monday that Lewis ran away as he approached the camp area and a chase ensued, followed by a fight between the two men.

Officer says he exhausted all options of force

The officer said he had used his fists, his baton and pepper spray to try to subdue Lewis but failed. He finally drew his gun and shot him once.

He said Lewis kept on fighting even after he was wounded.

After handcuffing Lewis to a tree, Brewer went to his car to radio for help but Lewis died before paramedics arrived, the inquest heard.

"What we did hear is that Mr. Lewis was shot once, only after Const. Brewer used a variety of intervention options from the bottom of the spectrum," RCMP spokesperson Const. Annie Linteau said outside the inquest.

Jurors were also shown photographs of Lewis dead on the forest floor, still handcuffed to a tree.

"They're disturbing images. He does handcuff him to the tree. There's a fear that perhaps leaving him there, he might run away, etc.," she said.

The jury will have the opportunity to make recommendations aimed at preventing deaths under similar circumstances in the future.

The coroner's inquest is expected to last two weeks.

Corrections

  • The name of the RCMP constable in question is Cole Brewer, not Eric Brewer, as originally reported by the B.C. Coroners Service.
    Jun 03, 2008 12:15 PM PT