Nfld. & Labrador

'Significant value' in public inquiry, says RNC cop who shot Don Dunphy

A Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer under scrutiny after the Easter Sunday shooting of Don Dunphy spoke for the first time Wednesday, and says he welcomes a public inquiry.

Const. Joe Smyth speaks publicly for first time

The RNC officer who fired the shot that killed Don Dunphy has revealed his identity and issued a statement welcoming an inquiry. (CBC)

A Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer under scrutiny after the Easter Sunday shooting of Don Dunphy spoke for the first time Wednesday, and says he welcomes a public inquiry.

Const. Joe Smyth, 38, revealed his identity to CBC News, and issued a statement saying "there is significant value in the public inquiry process."

In an email, Smyth referenced the promise by new Justice Minister Andrew Parsons that an inquiry will be held following the conclusion of a police investigation.

"I welcome the procedure and will, of course, fully participate and contribute in any way I can," Smyth said.

"Such a process can only shed light on a tragic and difficult situation."

Smyth, a 15-year veteran of the RNC, is now assigned to its criminal intelligence unit.

From 2011 to 2015, he was a member of the protective services unit, assigned to provide security for then premier Paul Davis.

Investigating tweets

In April, Smyth went to Don Dunphy's home in Mitchells Brook to investigate tweets made by Dunphy about the former premier and other politicians.

Don Dunphy, seen speaking with CBC News during a 2011 interview, was shot to death in his home on April 5. (CBC)

Gunshots were fired inside the house, and Dunphy was killed.

The RCMP said in April that Dunphy pointed a loaded gun at Smyth and that's why the officer fired his own weapon.

A .22-calibre rifle was found on the floor of Dunphy's home. During a forensic investigation, it was determined the gun was loaded.

Dunphy's daughter, Megan, has fought for a public inquiry.  

Her lawyer, Erin Breen, has criticized "the vacuum of information" surrounding the shooting, and suggested more would be known if the officer [Smyth] had worn a body camera.

Report expected in January

The RCMP is handling the criminal investigation into the incident, and said Wednesday it expects to submit a final report by the end of January

The report will then be given to an outside investigative service for an independent review.

The RNC, meanwhile, has asked the Saskatoon Police Service to handle its internal review.

The shooting happened inside Dunphy's home in Mitchells Brook, about 85 kilometers from St. John's. (CBC)

"The RNC will cooperate fully in a public inquiry into the death of Mr. Dunphy," said RNC Chief William Janes in a statement to the CBC Tuesday.

"An inquiry will shed light on the facts and circumstances surrounding this tragic loss of life." 

While Smyth has not been identified publicly until now, he did send a 900-word email to RNC colleagues about a week after the shooting.

"Although I cannot regret my actions last Sunday, I unequivocally wish I could have visited Mr. Dunphy at a point in his life where another level of intervention may have been possible," he wrote. 

After thanking colleagues and family, he then said, "Our lives can change or end in the blink of an eye. Please seize any opportunity to help those who need it."


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