Mother of Sask. man fatally shot by RCMP officer disappointed by lack of criminal charges
Ministry of Justice says it's confident in decision not to lay charges
The mother of Brydon Whitstone, the Onion Lake Cree Nation man who was fatally shot by an RCMP officer last year, says she's disappointed the officer will not face any criminal charges.
"I'm not happy. It's not a justified killing," Dorothy Laboucane said Tuesday.
Brydon Whitstone, 22, was shot following a brief police chase in North Battleford on Oct. 21, 2017.
Saskatchewan's Ministry of Justice announced the outcome of an investigation into the shooting at a press conference Tuesday, nearly a year after the shooting.
"We're confident in the investigation," said Drew Wilby, a spokesperson for the ministry.
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Regina Police Service investigated the shooting and made the decision not to lay charges after consulting Crown prosecutors from the province, according to Wilby.
A coroner's inquest to probe the details of what led to the shooting is scheduled to take place in the Battleford Court of Queen's Bench in early December.
Wilby said the inquest would offer "a full account of what happened the night Mr. Whitstone died."
"Obviously we don't want to see anything like this happen in the province," Wilby said of the shooting.
"Anything we can do to learn from that — and we're hoping that the coroner's inquest will shed some more light on that and some recommendations going forward so that we can move ahead and hopefully not have something like this happen again — would be very positive."
The RCMP said it has also done an internal probe into whether officers followed the proper protocol that night. The results of that review won't be released until after the inquest.
Laboucane met with officers from the Regina Police Service before the ministry's announcement. She said she asked if Whitstone was armed during the incident, only to be told those details would have to wait until the inquest.
It's also unclear whether the officer who shot her son will testify at the one-week inquest, scheduled to begin on Dec. 3, she said.
"I want to hear what he has to say," said Laboucane. "I want him to see us. I want to look at him and tell him a few things. He's lucky. He gets to [live].
Laboucane said Regina police gave her two boxes of her son's belongings, including the clothes he was wearing on the night he died.
"They're all in bags, paper bags, plastic bags," she said. "I tried [to open them] but I couldn't do it yet."
Waiting for answers
The RCMP said after the shooting that the officer fired in response to Whitstone's actions but offered few other details.
Tuesday's press conference was the first major update on the shooting investigation, but a spokesperson for the ministry said any comments from either Regina Police Service or the RCMP will have to wait until after the inquest wraps.
The Ministry of Justice also appointed an investigation observer, typically an ex-cop, to give a "lens of independence" to Regina police's work. That observer's report to the ministry is confidential.
Whitstone's family has waited impatiently for answers on what prompted the officer to shoot Whitstone.
The woman who was in the car with Whitstone that night, Amanda Wahobin, has provided CBC News her account of what happened that night. She believes Whitstone may have committed suicide by cop by pretending to reach for something while being ordered out of their vehicle by RCMP officers.
"We had no gun," Wahobin has said.
Whitstone's family disputes the notion that he was suicidal, however.
– with files from Adam Hunter
with files from Adam Hunter