Mesic inquest brought to silence by SIU video of shooting scene
After a weekend that marked the one-year anniversary of Steve Mesic's death, his fianceé sat and watched video of his blurred out, but bloodied body laying behind their mountain home.
In the sixth day into the coroner's inquest into last June's police shooting on the mountain, Sharon Dorr intently watched video taken by the province's Special Investigations Unit's (SIU) civilian member — a former Niagara Police officer of 34 years, himself.
The bloodied chest was made bare by Cons. Michael McLellan, who testified earlier he opened Mesic's shirt to perform first aid after he was shot six times.
Mesic's face and thin handlebar moustache could be made out in the video, which showed the former bodybuilder and steelworker lying on his back, with his head twisted back, looking left.
SIU: 'There's too many variables'
But none of the three SIU investigators on the stand Monday said they saw any blood trail. The officers involved say Mesic walked a considerable distance toward them carrying a shovel that he was holding ready to swing at them. The officers say they shot him when he was about five feet away and that after being hit six times he walked roughly 30 feet and fell down.
The SIU's lead investigator was recalled for testimony by the lawyer for the Dorr and Mesic family, and said that information may remain a mystery.
"There's too many variables," said Dean Seymour. "You cannot tell where the shooter was standing… Similarly, you can't tell where the deceased was standing (when he was shot)."
The sixth day of testimony heard from four members of SIU team, as well as Dr. Miriam Spinner, the psychiatrist at St. Joseph's Hospital who first assessed Mesic when he arrived at the hospital on an attempted overdose on June 4, 2013.
Three days later, Mesic died after a confrontation with police outside his Mountain home.
No answers for ghost records
Skinner couldn't answer why hospital records showed Mesic on the locked-down psychiatric ward at St. Joe's at the same time he was shot outside his home.
"I think I count (on) all staff to make appropriate observations," Skinner said of the ghost records. "I don't know why that happened."
As for the mental state of Mesic, who expressed suicidal thoughts the day he was granted "voluntary" status at the hospital, Skinner, who grew more impatient with her answers as the afternoon wore on, was emphatic.
"I found he was not psychotic, that he was in touch with reality," Skinner told the inquest.
She told Carr Hatch, the lawyer for the Dorr family, also said she had not seen St. Joe's policy on off-ward privileges, ever.
"I have not seen (the policy), nor did patients sign it," Skinner said.
Earlier in the day, Les Noble, one of the four SIU investigators at Monday's inquest, said staff began cutting down the brush outside the Mesic home after investigators found the first of nine bullets.
Hamilton police found missing shell casings
In questioning, Noble revealed that after the SIU found six bullets and one copper jacket, they released the scene to Hamilton Police. It was local cops, with different metal detectors, who found the remaining two bullets while they controlled the scene, Noble said.
Noble mapped the crime scene for the ICU, which shows that some 39 feet separated the centre point of where Mesic was found, and the nine foot cluster of shell casings left behind.
Constables McLellan and Kevin Farrell say Mesic was five feet from them before they began to shoot Mesic. Hatch continued to build an argument the officers were roughly 30 feet away.
Hatch also recalled the SIU's lead investigator — Dean Seymour — to confirm the language Const. Farrell used. He showed Farrell's use of "a couple" and a "a few" described small items, like two lanes on the Lincoln Alexander Parkway. It was the same language Farrell used in his interview with the SIU, Hatch referenced, on how many steps Mesic took after he and McLellan shot him.
The inquest will resume Tuesday.