02/14/2013 14:29 EST | Updated 04/16/2013 05:12 EDT

B.C. RCMP officer guilty of aggravated assault

A Duncan RCMP officer has been found guilty of aggravated assault for shooting an unarmed Chemainus man more than three years ago.

Const. David Pompeo shot 43-year-old Bill Gillespie in the neck after pulling him over for driving while prohibited in September 2009.

Gillespie and his friend, Dale Brewer, had been trying to find an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting but couldn't and decided to head home.

Pompeo told the court he had little time to react before he shot Gillespie, who he said had emerged from his vehicle gesturing in a way that suggested he might be armed.

The officer said Gillespie seemed to have a "thousand-yard stare" and he couldn't tell if he was high on drugs, planning to attack or thinking nothing at all.

"I remember thinking that he was really close to me and that I couldn't hesitate," Pompeo said.

'Hit by freight train'

The statements were in stark contrast to Gillespie's earlier testimony at the trial, where he said he was ordered out of the car and complied fully with Pompeo's instructions.

Gillespie told the court he got out of his vehicle, onto his knees and reached in front of himself to get on the ground before Pompeo shot him.

"I felt like I got hit by a freight train," he said.

“My body was on fire. I was just shocked. It was beyond words what was going on. I knew I'd been shot. I just couldn't believe it."

Gillespie said he was even more surprised, given Pompeo said nothing before he fired his weapon.

Judge Josiah Wood said little about the verdict in court, later filing an 86-page document detailing his reasons for judgment.

Gillespie says he hopes the verdict will force the RCMP to be more accountable.