Southend man sues RCMP over shooting

A Southend, Sask., man is suing the federal government and the RCMP officer who shot him during a confrontation outside his home in the small village in northeastern Saskatchewan.

A Southend, Sask., man is suing the federal government and the RCMP officer who shot him during a confrontation outside his home in the small village in northeastern Saskatchewan.

On July 5, 2008, Christopher Okemau was shot twice by Const. Jasmyn Sawatsky, who thought the four men Okemau had confronted outside his house with a baseball bat were in danger.

The men had beaten up Okemau's wife, and he was trying to get them off his property, which is located behind the local RCMP detachment.

The 24-year-old officer heard the commotion and went outside to find Okemau with the bat. That's when she drew her weapon and fired at Okemau, who was shot in the arm and the chest. He still has a bullet fragment in his chest, and will require medical treatment and surgery in the future, according to the statement of claim filed last Friday.

"Having someone standing out on the street with a baseball bat shouting at someone 60 feet away is not the kind of situation that I would think would warrant, without some kind of investigation and getting the attention of the person, … the use of lethal force," said Okemau's lawyer, Andrew Mason.

According to the claim, the plaintiff and his family had to find alternate accommodations following the shooting because of the "significant aversion to living in their own home" due to its proximity to the police station.

Furthermore, Okemau, who was employed at the time of the shooting, has been unable to work because of his injuries, and he has incurred "significant" expenses for travel associated with his treatments. The lawsuit is asking for an amount to be determined by the court.

Okemau was charged with possessing a dangerous weapon and was later acquitted. In his decision, the judge wrote the RCMP officer misread the situation. The ruling is being appealed.

The RCMP has not filed a defence in the lawsuit.