No aim to hike standoff tension says RCMP at Crockwell trial
Staff Sgt. Thomas Power said police were protecting public safety during the dispute
One of the key players in the standoff in Bay Bulls with Leo Crockwell says police did everything they could to ensure no one was harmed during the week-long incident.
Crockwell has accused police of unnecessarily escalating the dispute during Dec. 2010 but RCMP Staff Sgt. Thomas Power said that’s not true.
Testifying in court on Friday, Power, who was an incident commander at the police operation but has since retired, said "public safety" was priority number one, given that they were told that Crockwell had committed an assault, threatened his sister with a gun, and had a gun.
Power made the initial decision to send in the first Emergency Response Team. He said Crockwell refused to communicate.
Power said that early during the standoff police thought about cutting power to the house, "to make Crockwell uncomfortable and to come out," but he decided against it because it could have put a lineman in danger, and would have cut power to most of the town.
Eventually he gave the go ahead to use teargas to try to force Crockwell from the house.
"The incident had gone on for four days. With firearms in the house, going in was too dangerous. Tear gas was considered a less lethal option," he said.
For Crockwell's own safety, he said he wouldn't allow "distraction devices" to be put on the main floor because there's a risk of fire.
He said at one point, Crockwell came out of the house. Power says he decided if Crockwell did it again, a team member would try to get him. But Power said, for safety reasons, he dropped the plan when they got a tip that Crockwell had a pistol.
No pistol has been entered as evidence during the trial.
Power also gave officers permission to try to enter the barricaded home through its back door, but when shots were fired as they tried to break in with a battering ram, he ordered his men out.
Crockwell faces eight charges, most related to weapons offences. He is also accused of assaulting his sister shortly before the standoff at his mother's home started in December 2010 in Bay Bulls, just south of St. John's.
Four weeks were set aside for the trial which is scheduled to continue next week.