3 views: Mountie, paramedic and girlfriend replay the night Brydon Whitstone died
RCMP officer who shot Whitstone after a messy police chase also tried to revive him: witness
- Our latest story: A 'very chaotic' few minutes: Sask. Mountie shot Brydon Whitstone because he thought he had a gun
Three people who were there the night Brydon Whitstone was shot and killed by a Saskatchewan RCMP officer testified during a coroner's inquest into Whitstone's death Tuesday.
While they each offered a different perspective, together their accounts helped piece together the final, chaotic moments of the 22-year-old man's life.
The broad story outline, as revealed so far this week to the six-person inquest jury, remains the same.
RCMP officers in North Battleford responded on Oct. 21, 2017 to a 911 call about a man being shot at by people inside a white, four-door car.
Whitstone, who is from the Onion Lake Cree Nation, was driving a similar-looking car that night. When he didn't stop for an RCMP vehicle flashing its lights, a brief but messy police chase ensued. Whitstone collided with two RCMP vehicles until his car came to rest at an intersection.
As officers shouted at him to exit the car, an unarmed Whitstone reached twice into his jeans until an RCMP officer, fearing for his life, shot Whitstone twice.
But new details emerged Tuesday that fleshed out the highly emotional scene inside and outside Whitstone's car. They came from the RCMP officer who first pursued Whitstone; the woman who was in the car with Whitstone; and one of the paramedics who tried to save the wounded Whitstone's life.
Shooter tried to revive Whitstone
First up to offer memories, though the last to deal with Whitstone that night, was advanced care paramedic Richard Kenkel.
When he arrived, Whitstone was outside the car laying on his back, his arms handcuffed over his head and his chest marked by two bullet entrance wounds near his heart.
An RCMP officer was doing chest compressions to Whitstone, Kenkel said. The inquest jury later heard that two officers, including the Mountie who shot Whitstone, plus some firefighters, all tried to revive the heavily-bleeding man.
Whitstone's heart had stopped beating, Kenkel said, but paramedics continued with chest compressions and gave him five shots of epinephrine over a period of 20 minutes.
Once he starts treatment, "I want to see it through," said Kenkel.
They pronounced Whitstone dead, while enroute to the hospital, at 9:38 pm.
"Due to locations of the gunshots and exit wounds, I doubted a doctor or hospital would be able to [resuscitate him]," said Kenkel.
Chase 'felt like an eternity': officer
About a half hour earlier, Constable Matthew McKay was driving his RCMP vehicle when he spotted Whitstone's car, a white Buick Lesabre.
He said it caught his attention partly because it matched the description of the vehicle from the original complaint: a white four-door car.
"This is a call that we've often responded to in North Battleford," he said of the original weapons call.
McKay lit up his car lights and watched as Whitstone's car "took off like a rocket." He followed.
I [decided] I had to go after an active threat.- RCMP Cst. Matthew McKay
"This was a pursuable offence," he said, adding that he had his superior officer's approval to chase after Whitstone.
The pursuit, McKay's first, "felt like an eternity. But I know that in reality it was probably just a few minutes."
McKay followed Whitstone down an alley until Whitstone's car collided with another RCMP vehicle, damaging that vehicle so badly that McKay thought another officer might have been killed.
Forced to choose between checking on that officer and pursuing Whitstone — who he believed was armed — McKay advanced on foot, gun drawn, toward the intersection where Whitstone's car had stopped (after hitting a second police vehicle).
"I [decided] I had to go after an active threat," he said, citing public safety as his primary concern.
McKay made his way to the passenger side of the car and at one point saw Whitstone's hands on the wheel. He and many other officers yelled at Whitstone to get out. "Over and over and over."
"I was pretty well hoarse by the end of this event," said McKay.
Then McKay heard another officer yell, "Look out, he's reaching" and then a loud "pop". Whitstone had been shot, he soon realized.
'There was no time to stop'
Under cross-examination by Stephanie Lavallee, one of two lawyers representing the Whitstone family, McKay said he did not clip a microphone to his uniform when he left his car on foot.
"I was trying to preserve my life and the lives of the public. There was no time to stop," he said.
The only RCMP car or officer video shown to the jury inquest this week was from McKay's car, showing the immediate aftermath of the first collision.
The other camera in a responding officer's car that night had stopped recording before the incident with Whitstone.
Amanda Wahobin also took to the witness stand Tuesday.
The 29 year old was Whitstone's girlfriend in October 2017. He called her "My Minion," she told the jury. She was in the passenger seat of Whitstone's car throughout the entire altercation with the RCMP.
Her story, which she had already recounted in detail to CBC News, remained largely the same: Whitstone refused to stop for McKay and he refused to get out of the vehicle even as they were surrounded by shouting RCMP officers.
Even after he was shot once, Whitstone tried to put the car in reverse, she said. He was shot a second time. Then he stopped moving.
Wahobin seemed unable to revisit one story beat when on the witness stand, however.
She had previously told Regina Police Service, which investigated the shooting, that Whitstone had voiced a suicidal thought either the day of his death or some time before.
But Wahobin could not remember that exchange with Regina police Tuesday. That prompted the lawyer for the RCMP, Sean Sass, to approach Wahobin with the interview transcript.
Sass then made her read out the section in which she said Brydon had spoken of wanting to die.
Nine witnesses still need to testify during inquest, including the officer who shot Whitstone.
The inquest jury is also poised to hear from several officers who, like McKay, surrounded the car and ordered the couple out of the car.
The inquest is expected to wrap Friday, when the jury will make recommendations on how to prevent deaths like Whitstone's.
The RCMP has said it will only comment at that time.