The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer who fired his weapon during a confrontation in a Memorial University parking lot in St. John's last winter says he did so because he feared for his safety, and the safety of his fellow officers.
Const. Dustin Spurrell testified Thursday at the trial of Justin Chipman, who is accused of assaulting police officers with a car outside the university's Field House on February 18.
According to police, Chipman was already a marked man the day the RNC conducted a stake-out to catch him red-handed breaking into cars and stealing items from them.
Spurrell said in court Thursday he helped plan the stake-out to catch Chipman, based on previous experience in Ontario. He said he was all for taking Chipman down as soon as he got out of the SUV, but superior officers decided to wait.
According to testimony already given in court, Chipman got out of the SUV he was driving and smashed a vehicle's window, and proceeded to steal items.
Two officers tried to apprehend Chipman, but he got back in his SUV and tried to drive away, nearly hitting two officers, according to Spurrell.
Spurrell said he then tried to pin Chipman's SUV with his own undercover police car, but Chipman got away again, until his SUV became stuck in a snow bank.
According to Spurrell, Chipman continued to rev the engine while two RNC officers tried to break in the driver's side window and a third was on the other side of the vehicle.
Spurrell said he was determined to do whatever it took to ensure he and his fellow officers made it home safe that night.
Officers had already pulled their firearms. Spurrell said he had placed himself about 10 feet in front of the SUV when it broke free and started moving toward him.
Spurrell said he had Chipman in sight and pulled the trigger, which grazed and injured him.
The trial is set to continue in provincial court in St. John's on Friday.