POLITICS

Accused in Alberta Mountie shootings had photographed officer's family

04/16/2015 04:45 EDT | Updated 07/01/2015 01:59 EDT
WETASKIWIN, Alta. - An Alberta RCMP officer had met the man later charged with trying to kill him when the Mountie's wife hired him to snap some smiling family portraits.

But on Feb. 7, 2012, Const. Sidney Gaudette had a search warrant and was tasked with arresting the photographer, Sawyer Robison, because it was believed he had given a gun to a friend that had been used a few days earlier in a domestic assault.

Gaudette testified Thursday he and Robison were in the living room of Robison's farm house near Killam, southeast of Edmonton, and that Robison had put his hands up to surrender.

But Robison then lowered his arms and went rigid, said Gaudette. The officer next caught sight of a second man in the home and felt there could be trouble.

Gaudette turned slightly to speak into a radio microphone on his shoulder and asked two other Mounties waiting outside for help. That's when he heard an officer standing next to him yell: "Gun! Gun! Gun!"

"And then I immediately felt the pain," said Gaudette, who added that the burning came from his left side, just under his ribs.

"The pain kind of felt like I had been hit inside with a baseball bat."

The 32-year-old told court he then heard multiple gun shots and dashed back outside. Const. Sheldon Shah, who had also been hit, stumbled out a front door and fell to the ground. Another officer dragged Shah into a backseat and they all raced to the hospital.

Gaudette testified he doesn't recall getting a chance to fire his pistol that day.

He said he had only had positive experiences with Robison before the shooting. In 2011, the photographer did portraits of Gaudette and his pregnant wife.

The following year, he took photos of the couple with their new daughter and other relatives at a nearby lake. They even asked him to stay for a picnic.

Robison, 30, has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder, assault causing bodily harm and several weapons-related charges.

He had earlier faced another charge of second-degree murder in the death of his uncle, Bradford Clarke, but that charge was discontinued during a preliminary hearing.

Clarke's naked body was found in the kitchen after the shooting and a subsequent standoff. Photos in court show he had a head wound and two handguns were next to his body.

Police alleged at the time that Robison fled the home after the shooting in a pickup truck. He was arrested three days later after his parents pleaded on TV for him to turn himself in.

Court has heard the cluttered farm house was stocked with several guns, including a loaded sniper rifle, ammunition and a bullet-proof vest. More than two dozen spent bullets, fragments and cartridges were located in several rooms and there were bullet holes in walls and a living room window.

Gaudette said a doctor at the Killam hospital cut off his bloody clothes and a bullet fell to the floor. The bullet had gone through the Mountie's body, missed his spine and went out his back.

He was later flown to an Edmonton hospital for surgery. After two months of rehabilitation, he went back to work in Killam. He later transferred to another detachment in southern Alberta.

Under cross-examination, Gaudette admitted a warrant had initially been written in the name of another man, but it was crossed out and replaced with Robison's name — although it was misspelled as "Robinson."