Nfld. & Labrador

RNC Const. Joe Smyth denies tampering with evidence after shooting Don Dunphy

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer who shot and killed Don Dunphy in April 2015 continues his testimony Wednesday in St. John's.

Follow the live blog below for developments from the inquiry

Const. Joe Smyth told a public inquiry Wednesday that Don Dunphy pointed a rifle at him and he expected to be shot. (Keith Burgess/CBC)

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer who shot and killed Don Dunphy in April 2015 denies suggestions that he manipulated evidence after the fatal shooting.

While testifying at a public inquiry Wednesday, Const. Joe Smyth gave a detailed account of why he opened fire and ultimately killed the 59-year-old Mitchells Brook man inside his home on Easter Sunday 2015, saying Dunphy pointed a gun at him.

Smyth, 38, was at Dunphy's home to talk to him about items he was posting on social media about then–premier Paul Davis and other provincial politicians. At the time, Smyth was a member of the premier's security detail

When Dunphy's daughter, Meghan, 28, testified last week, she suggested that what her father lifted towards Smyth was a stick that he carried with him for protection. Dunphy grew medical marijuana that he was prescribed to treat chronic pain following a workplace injury in 1984. He feared someone might try to take his marijuana. 

Smyth denied that suggestion.

"Is it possible you mistook the stick for a gun?" commission lawyer Sandra Chaytor asked.

"No I was looking at a gun. It was not a stick. It was very clearly a gun. Absolutely," Smyth replied.

In a police statement after the shooting, Smyth said he thought "maybe it was a broomstick" and then realized "it was a gun."

Today he said: "It was a gun. No doubt."

I was thinking this is going to hurt. I expected to be shot. I drew my gun and fired from low.- Const. Joe Smyth

Chaytor asked if he saw a rifle prior to the shooting and Smyth said he hadn't.

"Did you find the rifle after the shooting?" asked Chaytor. Again, Smyth replied "no."

Then she asked: "Did you stage evidence?"

"I know what happened. I'm describing what happened," said Smyth.

"If the rifle was on the floor, why you couldn't you see it?" Chaytor asked.

"I've asked myself that every day, every night. I can't explain it," said Smyth.

Smyth described shooting

Smyth said in the moments leading up to the shooting he wasn't argumentative or angry with Dunphy, 59, as the man appeared to be in "a manic crisis."

Meghan Dunphy listens to testimony from the police officer who shot and killed her father. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

​He told the inquiry that the situation took an unexpected, violent turn.

"I looked down at [a] folder. I noticed him lean right and saw something coming up in his hands. It was a rifle. It was shocking. I was on high alert. It was pointed at me. My instinct was to raise my hand and say 'no,no, no,'" Smyth said.

​"I was thinking this is going to hurt. I expected to be shot. I drew my gun and fired from low."

​Smyth said that after firing he was focused solely on Dunphy's gun.

"It was pointed directly at me. As I tried to leave, I fired twice. I still saw his gun tracking me. It was still pointing at me. I fired again. I knew it hit because I saw his head move."

Smyth challenges RCMP timeline

A timeline prepared by the Mounties after an investigation of the shooting said Smyth called the RCMP about 12 minutes after firing his gun.

Smyth denied Wednesday that he waited that long to call the RCMP. He said he called about three minutes after his last shot was fired. 

"It's hard for me to piece that time together. I did a cursory house clearing stating 'Police. Anyone else in the house? Police.' I was on the front porch in high alert wondering if someone else was in the house or coming to the house," he said.

Chaytor said he did not move anything in the house after the shooting.

"The firearm was leaning against the table. Did you touch it?" asked Chaytor.

Smyth replied "No."

"The rifle was resting pointing back at Dunphy, why?" Chaytor asked.

"I have no idea," replied Smyth

​Smyth has been testifying all week

Since Monday, Smyth has been giving his account of what happened the day he visited Dunphy at his home.

On Tuesday, Smyth said he went alone to Dunphy's home because of a communications error, adding he was unaware of an RCMP file that flagged Dunphy for violence and drugs.

If he had known about those red flags, Smyth said he wouldn't have gone alone.

Officer cleared

The RCMP investigated the Dunphy shooting and determined that no charges were warranted against Smyth, who is now working with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary's traffic division.

Wednesday will be Smyth's third day of testimony at the inquiry. Follow developments as they happen on our live blog.

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