UPDATE: A jury at a coroner's inquest in North Battleford has been unable to determine the manner of a man's death last October.
A coroner's inquest is a process in which to determine the facts of the case. It is not to determine culpability, such as in a criminal trial. The presiding coroner asked jurors to detemine if the manner of Whitstone's death was a homicide, suicide or undetermined.
Brydon Whitstone was fatally shot in an altercation with the RCMP, after crashing into two police cars. In their interaction with Whitstone, Mounties said he made a move toward his waist area, which led to a member discharging their firearm. It was later determined Whitstone was unarmed.
A toxicology report determined that at the time of Whitstone's death, he had both meth and alcohol in his body. According to testimony at the inquest, Whitstone told a passenger in his vehicle that he wanted to die.
Following the conclusion of the inquest, Whitstone family members were thanked for their patience.
The jury made one recommendation after delivering its result. Jurors recommended the RCMP examine other methods of intervention to immobilize or stun a suspect, such as a Taser gun, to prevent similar deaths from happening in the future.
Dorothy Laboucane, Whitstone's mother, was visibly upset as she left the courtroom. She said the outcome of the inquest won’t bring back her son.
The jury is now sequestered at Queen’s Bench court in Battleford, where the coroner’s inquest into the death of Brydon Whitstone has been taking place all week.
Whitstone was fatally shot in an altercation with the RCMP in North Battleford on Oct. 21, 2017. Witnesses in the inquiry, which started Monday, wrapped up their testimony Thursday.
On Friday morning, jury members watched a video of the police pursuit from the night of the incident and received a timeline with details of the event, starting from the time the RCMP pursuit of Whitstone’s vehicle was authorized.
The jury was then given instructions from presiding Coroner Robert Kennedy. Jury members will need to answer a number of questions as part of the deliberations, including when and how Whitstone died.
Kennedy said his role is to guide the jury but the jury will its own decisions. The jury can also make recommendations to the court. Kennedy said they may or may not be implemented, but will be published.
Kennedy said the jury will need to factor in all the evidence from the witnesses’ testimony and supporting documentation making up the evidence. In determining the manner of death in this case, the jury will need to decide whether Whitstone died by homicide or suicide, or whether the cause is undetermined.
In providing instructions to the jury, Kennedy said homicide is a neutral term, and does not mean there is any culpability. It strictly indicates that the individual died from the actions of another. On the issue of suicide, Kennedy said the understanding, in this case, would be that an individual knew their actions would result in certain actions from another that could cause their death. For instance, did Whitstone intentionally do something knowing the police would react in a certain way?
Kennedy said suicide doesn’t have to be self-inflicted to be considered as such, in legal terms.
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