Jurors in the trial of two Winnipeg police officers, charged with shooting a suspect in 2007 and trying to cover it up, are hearing contrasting accounts of whose testimony they should believe.
In his closing comments to jurors Tuesday, defence lawyer Richard Wolson said the two constables — Darrel Selley and Kristopher Overwater — made split-second decisions on the night of July 16, 2007, in their pursuit of an alleged armed robbery suspect.
It was the suspect, Kristofer Fournier, who lied about what happened that night, said Wolson, who accused Fournier of being an admitted liar and manipulator who, at the time, sold drugs for a living.
But in his closing remarks, special prosecutor Robert Tapper urged jurors to follow the evidence and not the "lies" presented by the police officers.
Selley is on trial on seven charges, including one count of attempted murder, in connection with the shooting. Overwater is charged with dangerous driving and is accused of helping Selley fabricate evidence.
Their trial began Jan. 21. Jurors heard closing remarks all day Tuesday from Tapper and from defence lawyers Wolson and Hymie Weinstein.
The jury is scheduled to receive its charge from the judge on Wednesday morning. Deliberations will begin after that.
Struggle or no struggle?
According to police, the officers were pursuing an alleged armed robbery suspect driving a stolen SUV.
A 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, Fournier testified that he heard the officers yelling, "Shoot him!" before he was hit.
On Tuesday, Tapper accused Selley and Overwater of lying about a supposed struggle between them and Fournier, as well as about lying in their reports about several details, including a collision between their cruiser and the GMC Yukon that Fournier was driving that night.
Police said Fournier crashed into them, but Tapper said it was the other way around — that police rammed into Fournier's vehicle.
However, Wolson told the court there was a struggle, with Fournier being shot because he was trying to get Overwater's firearm.
Wolson noted that Fournier had gunshot residue on his hand that night, and asked jurors to consider how that residue could have gotten there.
'Hell-bent on getting away'
Selley and Overwater made decisions in split seconds that night, as they were of the understanding that they were chasing an armed robbery suspect, Wolson said.
The defence lawyer also told jurors that Fournier was high on crystal meth and "hell-bent on getting away" that night, using the stolen SUV as a "weapon" against the police officers.
The suspect in that high-speed chase was a criminal, but that is not the issue in this case, Tapper said.
"Ask yourself how he got shot in the back," he said to the jury.
Fournier has testified that he was a drug dealer at the time and was driving a stolen car when he was chased by the officers. He conceded that he was high on drugs at the time of the shooting and he made money by paying children to steal cars for him.
But Fournier told the court he has since turned his life around. He now works as a computer technician and he is in a stable relationship, he testified.
Fournier was arrested shortly he finished testifying on Jan. 22. At the time, Weinstein said Fournier was being arrested on an outstanding warrant.