An Ontario Provincial Police officer is scheduled to take the witness stand Tuesday at the Bruce Moonias inquest in Thunder Bay.
Moonias died in hospital seven years ago after being found in his residence at Neskantaga First Nation with a gunshot wound in his abdomen, following a standoff with police.
Police had been called when neighbours heard shots coming from the home.
On Monday, Stanley Moonias told the coroner's jury his son had mental health issues, but the treatment he received for his illness failed him.
As the inquest began, presiding coroner Dr. David Evans explained to the five jurors that, under the Coroner's Act, their role is not to assign blame. Instead, jurors are to acknowledge who died, when and where the death took place, the
medical cause of death and the manner of death.
Jurors were also encouraged to make recommendations about any of the circumstances that could prevent potential deaths in the future.
The coroner's counsel outlined what jurors can expect to hear evidence on, including:
- On Dec. 9, 2006 Bruce Moonias barricaded himself in his home with a gun, that gunshots were heard in the community, that the community was scared and that the Nishnawbe Aski Police Service called Ontario Provincial Police to come and help deal with the situation.
- The standoff lasted into the next day, Dec 10, 2006.
- Bruce Moonias came out alive on a stretcher with a gunshot wound to the abdomen. He was taken to the nursing station then flown to Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, where he died.
Three witnesses testified on Monday, including:
- Jimmy Sagutch, a neighbour at Neskantaga First Nation.
He testified he heard gunshots the night of Dec. 9, 2006. He said he was shocked to hear it was Bruce Moonias shooting. He worked with Bruce Moonias on labour jobs and his son was a friend of Bruce's. Sagutch was one of a couple of people who called police when he heard the shots.
- Stanley Moonias, Bruce Moonias' father.
The two men lived together. Stanley Moonias went out that night to play cards at the Nishnawbe Aski police officer's house, so he was there when the call came in that there were gunshots in the community. He knew they were coming from the direction of his house so he tried to call Bruce Moonias — who was home alone, as far as he knew — but there was no answer.
Stanley Moonias also testified that Bruce Moonias had been sexually assaulted by community members when he was a child, and that he was assessed for mental health issues as an adult, including hearing voices and seeing "dark figures.”
He said there were several hunting guns in his house but he wasn't worried that Bruce would touch them. When asked about the medical treatment Bruce Moonias received for his mental illness, Stanley Moonias said "I feel like it failed him." He said he wished doctors had communicated more with him on how to help his son.
- Delphine Moonias, an aunt of Bruce Moonias.
She testified her nephew would often help her around the house and confide in her. When Bruce Moonias was in jail for a sexual assault conviction — a conviction he appealed and was later acquitted of — Delphine Moonias said he told her on the phone that he wanted to hang himself to prove his innocence. She said she told him that wasn't the way to prove his innocence.
Delphine Moonias said even after Bruce Moonias was acquitted, he still felt people in the community labelled him as a sex offender. She said he would cry about that and told her that people made faces or yelled at him. When Bruce Moonias barricaded himself in the house, Delphine Moonias said she waited nearby so she could talk to him. She said the police were surrounding the house, and no one was allowed to go in.
Delphine Moonias is expected to finish her testimony on Tuesday. The inquest jury is also expected to hear testimony from an expert psychologist.