Private investigator questions claim that man shot by police had a knife
'No one saw the knife,' retired RCMP officer Robert Norton says
A private investigator took the stand Thursday at the inquest into the death of 26-year-old Craig McDougall, who was fatally shot by police on Aug. 2, 2008.
Robert Norton, a retired RCMP Inspector, was hired by the chief of Wasagamack First Nation and the Island Lake Tribal Council to conduct his own investigation into the shooting.
Earlier in the week, court heard that McDougall was shot with a stun gun twice, then with a gun three times after he refused to drop a knife.
Norton told the court he interviewed everyone who had been at the Simcoe Street home where it happened. He also talked to those who had contact with McDougall prior to the shooting.
"All [the witnesses] saw in his hand was a silver or silver and black cell phone," he said.
Following his testimony, Norton told CBC News those witnesses saw the phone in his hand after he had been shot and was lying on the ground.
Norton also said no one besides the three officers witnessed McDougall being shot.
"The closest they came to it was they heard the shots," he said.
Norton said he has since read the police report of what happened that night and said the evidence in it "is very clear he was carrying a knife, that he was threatening the officers with the knife."
"The one question remains... where did the knife come from," he said. "I haven't seen the answer to that yet."
Norton said in 2008 Brian McDougall, the victim's father, told him a large knife was missing from the kitchen. However, Norton said Craig McDougall had contact with two women on Notre Dame Ave after his father kicked him out of the Simcoe Street home and said neither woman saw a knife.
The officer who fired the lethal shots, Curtis Beyak, is set to testify on Nov. 22. That will be the first time the inquest hears from someone directly involved with McDougall.
Racism played a role in inquest delay: witness
Norton said he is pleased that the inquest is looking at whether or not systemic racism played a role in this case.
"If Craig McDougall was a white kid, perhaps the son of a prominent Winnipeg citizen, [it] would have been wrapped up in 24 months," he said.
He said after reading the police report he believed the officers did their job properly. He said it's what happened next that is concerning.
"During the eight years I followed this file... I spoke with the chief medical examiner who told me he had no control over it until the file came back from the director of prosecutions," explain Norton.
"I spoke with the director of prosecutions who said he didn't know where the file was and said, more or less, not to worry about it," he added.
Norton said eight years is too long for a grieving family to have to wait for answers.