Nfld. & Labrador

ASIRT told Don Dunphy's daughter evidence was lost, lawyer says

No charges will be laid in the 2015 shooting death of Don Dunphy, the RCMP said Tuesday.

Justice minister says government moving towards public inquiry

RCMP Sgt. Pete McKay speaks with reporters after announcing no criminal charges will be laid in the death of Don Dunphy. 9:28

No charges will be laid against the police officer who shot and killed Don Dunphy in 2015, RCMP said Tuesday.

However, Dunphy's daughter says the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team told her there were errors in the investigation, "which resulted in a loss of evidence."

The police force released limited results of its investigation Tuesday morning into the Dunphy shooting, but told reporters that there were no grounds to charge RNC Const. Joe Smyth in the incident.

"The investigation concluded that as much force was used as was necessary, and there was no information around the circumstances, in the investigation itself, that would lead us to lay any criminal charges," RCMP Sgt. Pete McKay said at a news briefing Tuesday morning.

Dunphy was shot and killed at his home on Easter Sunday in 2015 by Smyth, a Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer and a member of then-premier Paul Davis's protective detail.

No charges will be laid in the 2015 shooting death of Don Dunphy, the RCMP said Tuesday. (CBC)

Smyth was visiting the residence in Mitchells Brook, St. Mary's Bay, to conduct a risk assessment after Dunphy, 59, sent a string of tweets to the premier.

It attributed errors to local inexperience in conducting police-involved shooting investigations.- Statement from Dunphy family on report findings

According to ASIRT, which reviewed the RCMP investigation, Smyth was "conducting a voluntary interview … when a confrontation occured."

Erin Breen, the lawyer representing Dunphy's daughter Meghan Dunphy, issued a statement Tuesday afternoon.

Breen said Meghan Dunphy was told there was a loss of evidence, but it did not affect the final conclusion of the investigation.

Further, the statement said ASIRT told Dunphy that "it attributed errors to local inexperience in conducting police-involved shooting investigations."

"Ms. Dunphy was also informed that retired Justice David Riche, Independent Observer, has completed a separate report that raises concerns about the shooting incident itself (which was not the subject of the ASIRT review)."

Breen said Dunphy has not been given access to reports from the RCMP, Riche or ASIRT.

The RCMP told CBC News late Tuesday afternoon that no evidence was lost, but Breen stood by the statement.

"That's what we were told," she told CBC on Tuesday evening. "(The RCMP) were not present at the meeting (with ASIRT)."

Family wanted answers

But Sgt. McKay gave reporters few details when asked during a news briefing.

McKay said the shooting was a "tragic circumstance" for the Dunphy family, but shared few details about what exactly happened the day Dunphy was shot.

We have to allow these investigations to happen. We need to allow this work to be done.- Justice Minister Andrew Parsons

"We can't discuss a lot of the details of the investigation," he said.

"There's reports of a pending inquiry into this matter. The RCMP certainly does not want to provide information that may slant or hamper that process from unfolding as it should."

Early in its investigation, the police force said Dunphy was killed after he pointed a loaded firearm at Smyth, following a 15- minute encounter between the two men.

The Dunphy family and Smyth were briefed Tuesday on the results of the RCMP investigation.

The provincial government has committed to holding a public inquiry once the police report was complete.

Investigation was reviewed

ASIRT, which investigates police shootings in Alberta, wrote to the Newfoundland and Labrador government on Monday, detailing some results of its review.

Const. Joe Smyth went to Dunphy's home to investigate tweets about the premier. (CBC)

Their report found that the RCMP "followed the best practices and principles of major case management," and that its investigation was "thorough, complete and unbiased."

However, ASIRT was only tasked to review the RCMP's own steps to investigate Dunphy's death, and was not asked to provide any determination on whether Smyth was "lawfully placed" at the time, or whether lethal force was appropriate.

The reviewers did say they found minor issues with the RCMP investigation, but none that reached a critical level.

Joe Smyth offers comment

In an email to CBC News, Smyth said he would like to answer any outstanding questions, but he is not able to because of a pending inquiry.

However,he did want to clarify the reason why he was at Dunphy's home on Easter Sunday.

"At no point did I or members of the RNC interpret any of Mr. Dunphy's social media commentary as threats — as has been indicated time and time again by both traditional and social media platforms," Smyth wrote.

He goes on to say that "the goal of this meeting was to build a rapport with Dunphy, and to to identify if there was a reasonable solution to his grievance."

Smyth said it was a regularly scheduled shift for him the day of the shooting and "the first opportunity other duties and sufficient information permitted the visit."

"Sorry I cannot comment further at this time on what is indeed a tragedy."

Inquiry coming

On Tuesday, Justice Minister Andrew Parsons said the government would be moving quickly towards setting up a public inquiry into Dunphy's death.

Justice Minister Andrew Parsons says an inquiry into Don Dunphy's death will be coming, but there's no date set as of yet. (CBC)

Parsons expressed frustration that precise details about the incident have yet to be released, but said he wants that information to be made public through the inquiry.

"I know the public want[s] information now, they wanted information a year and a half ago," he said.

"It's just the nature of this, we have to allow these investigations to happen. We need to allow this work to be done."

Parsons couldn't set a precise date for the inquiry to begin, but said he would move as quickly as he could without negatively impacting the results.

"I don't want to be a part of an inquiry that, when it's all said and done, people are sat back saying, 'I feel there's still questions there.'"

Meanwhile, RNC Chief Bill Janes released a statement Tuesday afternoon passing on condolences to the Dunphy family.

"Any premature loss of life in these types of circumstances is a tragedy and is traumatic for all persons involved," Janes said in a statement.

Janes thanked the RCMP and ASIRT, adding the force is waiting on a report from the Saskatoon Police Service.

That investigation is looking into compliance with RNC policies and procedures. 

With files from Mark Quinn