Two Winnipeg police officers are relieved after a jury found them not guilty in the shooting of a suspect in 2007, according to their lawyers.
Constables Darrel Selley and Kristopher Overwater, who were accused of shooting Kristofer Fournier in the backside following a high-speed chase on July 16, 2007, were acquitted on all charges against them late Friday afternoon.
Selley was charged with attempted murder, and both officers are charged with fabricating evidence after the incident.
If they had been found guilty, both officers could have faced jail time.
As the verdict was being read aloud in court, Overwater and Selley were seen hugging their lawyers and supporters in the courtroom, the CBC's Angela Johnston reports.
The defence lawyers, Richard Wolson and Hymie and Josh Weinstein, said they and their clients are very happy with the jury's verdict.
"I've been doing this for a lot of years. This has to be one of the most difficult, tense cases I've been involved in. And I'm sure the other counsels would say the same," Hymie Weinstein told reporters outside the courthouse.
Wolson said Selley and his family were emotional as the verdict was handed down.
"It's hard to imagine that these charges, hanging over one's head for such a long time, wouldn't have created such an emotional result as there was today. So we're just thrilled for them," Wolson said.
"Took a long time, but we're just happy with the result," he added. "So, what can I say? Justice has been done, in our view."
Officers were pursuing alleged robbery suspect
Jurors spent nearly two days deliberating in the case, following a trial that began Jan. 21.
Police have said Overwater and Selley were pursuing an alleged armed robbery suspect driving a stolen SUV.
A high-speed car chase ensued, with officers pursuing a man they incorrectly believed to be involved in the robbery.
The police cruiser and Fournier's vehicle collided, and the officers chased Fournier on foot near Grant Avenue and Lindsay Street, where he was shot in the buttocks.
During the trial, special prosecutor Robert Tapper argued that Selley and Overwater had lied in their reports about an alleged struggle between them and Fournier that led to Fournier being shot, as well as some details involving the collision.
But lawyers for the officers argued that there was a struggle, with Fournier being shot because he was trying to get Overwater's firearm.
Tapper told reporters he does not plan to appeal the verdict.