Nfld. & Labrador

Const. Joe Smyth misled Dunphy shooting inquiry, new evidence suggests

RNC Const. Joe Smyth described Don Dunphy as "some lunatic threatening the premier" in a text he sent to a friend before the 2015 shooting, a text that wasn't given to the inquiry into the shooting until recently.

Inquiry is hearing about text messages from RNC constable who shot Don Dunphy

Const. Joe Smyth listens Wednesday at the Inquiry into the shooting death of Don Dunphy. (Mark Quinn/ CBC)

The inquiry into the 2015 shooting death of Don Dunphy learned Wednesday that Const. Joe Smyth consulted with a Royal Newfoundland Constabulary colleague to prepare his statement to investigators.

The RCMP has disclosed messages between Smyth and another RNC officer, Tim Buckle, sent after the April 5 shooting but before Smyth gave a statement to the RCMP.

In one message Buckle makes suggestions about what Smyth should say.
This exhibit was entered at the Dunphy inquiry on Wednesday, Feb. 8, showing conversation between Joe Smyth and a RNC colleague. (CBC)

But testimony Smyth gave on Jan. 18, 2017, tells a different story. Responding to questions from commission co-counsel Sandra Chaytor, Smyth didn't mention his conversation with Buckle.

Here's an excerpt of the transcript from that day:

Chaytor:  So those are notes that you had prepared at some point before you gave your RCMP statement.

Smyth:  Yes, it was that morning.

Chaytor:  OK. And in terms of the drafting of those notes, did you have any advice or any input into what should go in those notes?

Smyth:  No.

Chaytor:  Did you consult with anyone in drafting that document?

Smyth:  I did send them to our legal counsel at their request.

Chaytor:  OK.

Don Dunphy called 'lunatic' in Smyth BBM

In another message to a friend whose identity was not revealed, Smyth dismissed Don Dunphy "as some lunatic threatening the premier."

He sent the BlackBerry message before heading to Dunphy's home in Mitchells Brook to investigate tweets made by Dunphy about politicians, that were deemed to be "disconcerting." 

The messages were on a phone the RCMP gave to the inquiry into the shooting just days ago — after Smyth testified — and revealed Wednesday. The police force said it wasn't aware of them before.

If I have to arrest him, I'll be late.- Joe Smyth

In the exchange Smyth wrote, "Gotta go deal with some lunatic threatening the premier etc."

His friend replies, "Cool, will have beer waiting for u."

Smyth then wrote, "If I have to arrest him, I'll be late."

Lawyers at the inquiry said Wednesday that Smyth may be called back to testify again about the messages, but inquiry staff said that hasn't been determined yet. 

Dunphy, 59, was shot and killed by Smyth on Easter Sunday, 2015. Smyth, who was part of a security detail for then-premier Paul Davis, has testified that he shot Dunphy four times after Dunphy pointed a rifle at him.

An investigation by the RCMP concluded there was no criminal wrongdoing.

RCMP investigator asked about new evidence

The lead investigating officer in the Dunphy case, Cpl. Steve Burke, was back on the stand Wednesday.

RCMP Cpl. Steve Burke was the lead investigating officer in the fatal shooting of Don Dunphy. (CBC)

Commission co-counsel Kate O'Brien asked him if the newly revealed messages would have influenced his investigation.

Burke responded "no." He said the comments Smyth wrote don't speak directly to the shooting itself.

Burke was also asked about the messages between Buckle and Smyth discussing what Smyth should say in his statement to police.

He said police officers shouldn't have someone help them with their notes but again said this wouldn't have influenced the outcome of the investigation.

RCMP thoroughness questioned

​Burke was asked a series of questions by O'Brien that raised doubts about the thoroughness of the RCMP's handling of the investigation.

Burke said Tuesday that police did not search Smyth's car, and they did not confine him to a police vehicle at the scene of the shooting. Smyth also was not photographed the day he shot Dunphy.

Follow updates from the testimony in our live blog.