Inquest hears Yellowknife woman pointed gun at Mounties

The three RCMP officers who shot Karen Lander in Yellowknife have been testifying at a coroner's inquest Monday.

Coroner's inquiry looking at details of what happened last March when police fatally shot Karen Lander

Inquest hears woman pointed gun at Mounties

9 years ago
RCMP officers who shot Karen Lander in Yellowknife testified that they opened fire when Lander walked out of a home carrying a rifle during a standoff last March. 2:20

The three RCMP officers who shot Karen Lander in Yellowknife are testifying at a coroner's inquest today.

The Mounties opened fire when Lander walked out of a home carrying a rifle during a standoff last March.

Lander told police she wanted them to shoot her.

RCMP Const. Andrew Moore says Lander walked out of a home carrying a rifle, lifted it in the air with both hands several times and then pointed it at them.

Const. Moore says he felt his life and his coworkers were in danger. He told the inquest they yelled at Lander to stop, but she didn't.

Moore says he was trained to shoot until she no longer posed a threat.

Three officers opened fire and investigators who reviewed the case say they fired 12 rounds. They were about 25 metres from Lander. Lander was hit four times.

Moore says non-lethal force, such as Tasers or rubber bullets, would not have been accurate or effective at that distance. He added that there were no guarantees those options would have stopped her.

Whole incident lasted about a minute

Earlier in the inquest, the coroner's jury heard a recording of the emergency response team in those final minutes.

A sniper watched Lander exit from a nearby home, and four officers waited near the end of the street.

The jury heard officers speak back and forth on the radio. The officers said, "walking down the driveway got a gun in her hand, out of the house, roll", and then another officer said "shots fired by members. Hold positions".

Lander was shot dead.

The event only lasted about a minute.

The recording of the radio conversations between the police, which the jury heard didn't capture the sound of police yelling at Lander to stop. Only later did police learn her rifle was empty.

RCMP Const. Matt Hallett was in charge of the emergency response team. He told the jury on Friday that even if Lander had said the gun was not loaded, police are trained not to trust people in crisis.

Jury members and lawyers asked Hallett why police hadn't used non-lethal force, such as rubber bullets, Tasers, police dogs or even bean-bag grenades.

Hallett answered that those options aren't always effective or accurate. He said that under the circumstances, and with the risk, firing was the only option.

Officers satisfied with RCMP response

Two police officers who negotiated with Lander say they were satisfied with how the RCMP responded.

Staff Sgt. Maj. Al McCambridge led the negotiations. He also spoke at the coroner’s inquest, and told the jury that the constable who spoke to Lander on the phone was doing everything he could.

Sometimes police involve people who know the person in a crisis. During the standoff with Lander, police considered that option, but McCambridge says they worried about putting someone else at risk.

McCambridge and the primary negotiator say they followed police procedures, and they had no recommendations for a coroner's jury.

Follow CBC North's Elizabeth McMillan (on Twitter @elizmcmillan) as she tweets from the inquest.