The Alberta man accused of shooting an RCMP officer to death in Hay River, N.W.T., has told a Yellowknife jury the fatal shots were fired while they were struggling in the dark.
Emrah Bulatci, 25, began his testimony Thursday morning at his first-degree murder trial in the Oct. 6, 2007, death of Const. Christopher Worden, 30.
Early in the trial, which began Oct. 21 in Yellowknife, Bulatci tried unsuccessfully to plead guilty to manslaughter. His lawyers are arguing that while Bulatci did shoot Worden, he did not intend to kill the officer.
Wanted to ditch the gun
On Thursday, Bulatci testified that early on the morning of Oct. 6, 2007, he was leaving a house in Hay River where he had been dealing drugs when Worden arrived and started questioning him.
Bulatci ran away because he did not want Worden to see the illegally obtained .40-calibre handgun he had tucked into his waistband, he said.
Speaking quietly, he told the jury he was trying to gain enough ground to discard his gun without Worden seeing it, but the officer kept running about three metres behind him.
As soon as Bulatci realized he was not going to escape Worden, he reached into his jacket, pulled out the handgun and cocked it.
"I turned around, and I aimed low because I thought if I shot him in the leg, he would stop chasing me, and I wouldn't kill him," Bulatci told court.
He said he thought he had missed the first two shots because Worden kept coming at him.
Bulatci said he then took two or three steps, tripped and fell face-down in a dark wooded area.
Worden landed on top of him, pinned Bulatci's head down, grabbed his right hand — the one holding the gun — and pulled it back when the firearm went off twice, Bulatci testified.
'I was scared'
"He stopped fighting me … I kind of pushed him off," he told the court. "I was panicked. I was scared. I didn't look back."
During cross-examination, Crown prosecutor John MacFarlane asked Bulatci if his intent to shoot Worden "went away after the first two shots."
MacFarlane said Bulatci could still have moved his right wrist to point the gun at Worden, suggesting that Bulatci deliberately pulled the trigger.
"I didn't mean to pull it," Bulatci replied. "I don't know what happened; I just don't."
Bulatci's claim that the gun fired accidentally contradicts testimony by Crown witnesses who said Bulatci had bragged to them about shooting the police officer in the days following the incident.
Bulatci told the court he was afraid to tell his drug associates that the shooting was an accident.
"I couldn't tell them it was an accident. I couldn't make myself look weak and vulnerable," he said.
"So I acted like I was in control, like I meant to do it. But in my mind, I was scared. I was just talking tough."
Bulatci was among the last of roughly 50 witnesses to testify during the N.W.T. Supreme Court trial.
The courtroom was packed for Bulatci's testimony Thursday. Some of his relatives sat behind the prisoner's box while Worden's family, including his widow, Jodie Worden, sat about five or six metres away.
The defence is expected to call up to three more witnesses before wrapping up its case Friday.