MEADOW LAKE, Sask. - A coroner's inquest has heard that a Saskatchewan Mountie who lost contact with his partner should have stopped chasing a wanted man through the bush before the confrontation turned deadly.
RCMP training expert Sgt. Robert Gourlay told the inquest Thursday in Meadow Lake that any officer who drops his radio and is separated from his partner should back off instead of chasing a suspect alone.
But Gourlay also said that if an officer considers the height and weight of a suspect and believes he can manage the arrest on his own, he can go ahead.
Const. Jamie Grant testified earlier this week that he lost his radio and his partner while he was chasing Harry Haineault from the Clearwater River Dene Nation in September 2008. The officer shot Haineault in the chest and he died.
Following several days of testimony, the six-member inquest jury began its deliberations Thursday afternoon. It's tasked with coming up with recommendations to prevent similar deaths but cannot determine guilt.
Grant and Const. Ryan Boogaard had gone to a home on the settlement to arrest Haineault, who was wanted on warrants and faced charges that included assault, resisting arrest, possession of a dangerous weapon and escaping custody.
RCMP were aware Haineault had a history of running from officers, so Boogaard went to the front door of the home and Grant went to the rear. Haineault bolted out the back door.
Grant told the inquest that during the chase he struggled with Haineault and the 38-year-old man eventually got him into a scissor-hold with his legs. He said Haineault refused to let go, even when the officer offered him a deal by promising not to arrest him.
Grant said Haineault grew more aggressive and the officer tried unsuccessfully to subdue the man with both a baton and pepper spray. Fearing for his life, Grant then shot him.
Gourlay testified that based on Grant's version of what happened, the officer was clearly in a combative, life-threatening situation and had reason to pull his pistol.
The inquest heard earlier evidence that toxicology tests found no pepper spray on Grant's clothes or the leather gloves he was wearing at the time. Grant admitted to cleaning his gloves with hand sanitizer after the shooting because he feared he may have come into contact with Haineault's blood.
Tests also revealed that Haineault was drunk that night. His blood alcohol level was more than three times the legal driving limit.
A paramedic told the jury that when he arrived, he found Grant walking back and forth, smoking a cigarette, with his shirt hanging out and vest undone. Haineault's body was a short distance away with unattached handcuffs on both wrists.
This is the second inquest into Haineault's death. An inquest started in 2010 but a judge ordered a new one after Haineault's family brought forward new evidence _ surveillance video taken from outside the house.
The jury was shown the video, in which Haineault can be seen running outside. A loud pop can also be heard.
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