Nfld. & Labrador

Don Dunphy candlelight vigil held to mark anniversary of fatal shooting

There still are no answers for friends and family of Don Dunphy, a year since a police officer fatally shot him in his Mitchells Brook home.

'More confusion and still no sense of understanding,' says friend of Dunphy

Don Dunphy vigil 1:32

A year after a Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer killed Don Dunphy in his Mitchells Brook home, friends and family say they still want answers about what happened in the controversial shooting.

"Today we feel more grief and more sadness and maybe more confusion and still no sense of understanding," said Audrey Wade, a friend of Dunphy, as the community gathered Wednesday night for a vigil in his memory. 

"I think people around here, very much, feel like in some way, shape or form that Donnie was family."

The vigil took place outside Dunphy's home in Mitchells Brook. (Katie Breen/CBC)

Dunphy, 59, was shot and killed April 5 by RNC officer Joe Smyth, who at the time had been assigned to former premier Paul Davis's security detail.

Smyth had travelled to Dunphy's house in Mitchells Brook after a staff member of the premier's office interpreted one of Dunphy's tweets as a threat. 

Police said that Dunphy pointed a loaded gun at the officer, which was why Smyth fired his weapon​.

'Sense of peace'

This memorial is on Dunphy's front lawn. Event organizer, Audrey Wade, referred to the tall candle as the eternal candle. (Katie Breen/CBC)

Wade, who said time isn't healing the hurt, felt it was important to mark the first anniversary of her friend's death by organizing the candlelight vigil that was held in the small St. Mary's Bay community on Wednesday evening.

She said the event is a way for everyone, including Dunphy's daughter, who attended the vigil, to find a "sense of peace" with what happened.

Audrey Wade organized the candlelight vigil. About 60 friends, family and community members attended. (Katie Breen/CBC)

"I feel it important that we don't let his memory die and in some ways he had a legacy, and we need to pick up the torch and carry on," she said. 

Independent review

The RCMP has completed its final report in the investigation, although that report has not yet been released. 

The Newfoundland and Labrador government also brought ​the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) to conduct an independent review.

The civilian-led ASIRT, whose mandate is to investigate serious injury or death resulting from police actions, have not released the results of their review.

Gerry Baird worked with Don Dunphy in the 1970s. At that time, they both had young families. (Katie Breen/CBC)

"The way he died was a pretty big shock to everybody and now it's a year later and still no answers, still no closer to knowing exactly what happened," said Gerry Baird, friend and co-worker of Dunphy.

"It's kind of frustrating that you still don't know. There's so many questions unanswered. It must be really frustrating for his family." 

Wade feels the same way, that answers are needed but said "you can't rush these things".

"The fact remains, it is what it is and, you know, whatever processes and procedures and everything that has to happen, have to happen," she said. 

 'Time now for answers'

Baird said he had known Dunphy for several years, working with him on Hibernia and a number of other projects. 

He said he was "just your average guy, same as the rest of us."  

Baird and Wade said they hope the Dunphy family gets the closure they need.

"I hope his daughter, at least, gets some answers in the near future. It's time now for answers, I think," said Baird.

"You can feel the emotion when you come through here and by the turnout alone tonight you still see that people very, very much are in support of, you know, everything that we do and very much still feel like there's not a clear answer to any of this," said Wade.

At the end of the vigil ceremony, balloons were released into the air. (Katie Breen/CBC)

With files from Katie Breen