Family and friends of a man accused of killing an RCMP officer in a remote Nunavut hamlet have testified about a night of drunken rage and reckless driving that climaxed with a gunshot and the suspect walking away from the Mountie's vehicle.
Pingoatuk (Ping) Kolola, 39, is on trial for first-degree murder in connection with the death of Const. Douglas Scott on Nov. 5, 2007, in the Baffin Island hamlet of Kimmirut.
Scott, 20, was investigating a complaint regarding an impaired driver in the community of 400 when he was shot while inside his parked police truck.
As Kolola's trial began this week in Iqaluit, the 12-person jury heard testimony from several Crown witnesses, including Kolola's common-law wife and niece, as well as two of his co-workers.
The niece, Rosemary Kolola, testified Tuesday that on the night of the slaying she received a call for help from Kolola's common-law wife, Olleetua Judea, who had been arguing with her husband in the days leading up to the shooting.
Rosemary Kolola said she left her home to try to get Kolola and Judea's eight-month-old son away from their house.
Judea had told the court late Monday that she and Kolola had been fighting for days over his alleged relations with his ex-wife.
On the evening of Nov. 5, after Kolola finished his shift as a housing maintenance worker for the Kimmirut Housing Association, Judea informed Kolola she had asked the housing authority to have him removed from their shared unit.
Judea told the court that she wanted Kolola out of their home so he could work out his relationship with his ex-wife, who was living in Iqaluit by then.
But Kolola was enraged by what Judea had done, and became even angrier after he drank some vodka, Judea told the court.
After Judea left the home, she said Kolola took the eight-month-old boy and started driving recklessly around the hamlet.
Chased around community
Once Rosemary Kolola arrived at the couple's home, she said she was told to leave, and did because she was scared. Shortly afterwards, she said, her uncle started to chase her in his truck and on foot throughout Kimmirut, ending up near the local arena.
Rosemary Kolola told the court that she eventually sought safety at a friend's house nearby.
Court was told that the niece and her friend stood on the porch, looking out the window, when they saw an RCMP truck approach Kolola's half-ton truck.
The niece said she heard a loud bang that sounded like a gunshot, and a moment Kolola walked away from the RCMP vehicle.
Two men pursued
Also on Tuesday, jurors heard from two Kimmirut men who tried to chase Kolola as he was driving around the community that night.
Sam Pikoyak, a colleague and hunting buddy of the accused, said he drove his snowmobile after Kolola's blue truck, hoping to get Kolola to give up the eight-month-old passenger inside.
Pikoyak said Kolola tried repeatedly to evade him by hiding his truck near buildings and turning off the vehicle's lights.
Another colleague, Thomasie Keenainak, testified that he tried to pursue Kolola as well, and Kolola tried to evade him a few times.
Both Keenainak and Pikoyak told the court that they saw Scott inside the RCMP truck and realized the officer had probably been killed on the spot.
Both men also testified that they received phone calls from Kolola later that night, apologizing for his actions.
Mountie went to 'round him up'
On Monday, prosecutor Susanne Boucher played a series of taped telephone conversations between RCMP and Kimmirut residents who reported a drunk driver around 10:51 p.m. ET on Nov. 5, 2007.
The court then heard a taped conversation between the RCMP dispatcher in Iqaluit and Scott, who was told to look for Kolola. In the audio tape, Scott was heard saying, "I'll see if I can go round him up."
Hearing Scott's response was an emotional moment for his family members, who have travelled to Iqaluit from Ontario to attend the trial.
The next call from the RCMP dispatch to Scott was placed at 11:20 p.m., but he did not answer.
Prosecutors said they plan to call 20 Crown witnesses during the trial, which is expected to run two to three weeks.