A key witness to the Crown’s case in the trial of an RCMP officer took the stand on Tuesday in Cranbrook Supreme Court.
Nickolas Bullock, the man shot at the end of a police pursuit, testified his recollection of events on Oct. 2, 2012 in and around Cranbrook.
Following the incident, Cst. Richard Drought faced a charge of careless use of a firearm after the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) filed a report with the Criminal Justice Branch, who approved the laying of the charge in April 2013.
Crown counsel began with direct examination of Bullock’s memory of the incident, while defence counsel focused cross-examination on inconsistent statements made to investigators and at a preliminary inquiry.
Testifying in front of Justice Trevor Armstrong and a jury, Bullock recounted his journey from Port Coquitlam to Creston to a rural acreage outside Cranbrook where the shooting incident occurred.
Bullock said he stole a Chevrolet Malibu from Port Coquitlam along with a 17-year-old female, before running out of gas outside Creston.
He testified a Toyota 4Runner pulled over and offered the two a ride. Bullock said he fell asleep in the back seat, while the female was in the passenger seat.
Bullock said he woke up to an argument between the young woman and the driver, and pulled out a can of bear spray, resting the nozzle on the back of the driver’s head.
Bullock said he ordered the driver to pull over and get out and sprayed the man to prevent him from calling the RCMP.
He testified that it was snowing heavily as he drove into Cranbrook, with an RCMP cruiser initiating a pursuit on the outskirts of town on Highway 3/95.
Having been in a few high-speed chases before, Bullock testified that he sped up and swerved into oncoming traffic in an erratic fashion to try and force RCMP to call off the pursuit due to public safety.
Bullock said he turned onto Victoria Ave after the two eastbound lanes were occupied with traffic at a red light, and continued driving up the middle of the road until reaching a gravel laneway on the backside of the College of the Rockies Gold Creek Campus.
Bullock testified he crashed through a fence and drove around some trees, ending up near a garage on a rural property. He said he contemplated running, but didn’t because the snow would give away his footprints.
Bullock said he turned the SUV to retrace the tracks he drove in on as the police cruiser had already stopped inside the property near a gate where he crashed through the fence.
As he was exiting a cluster of trees, Bullock testified he saw a muzzle flash from a gun coming from the front passenger side of the 4Runner 30 feet away. Bullock said he was shot through the wrist in a right-to-left direction in one of the early rounds to hit the vehicle.
He said he pulled the steering wheel left and covered the female passenger with his body, taking his foot off the gas and the brake as the vehicle stopped at a tree.
He didn’t know he had received additional wounds to the back until after the incident ended.
Under cross-examination, defence counsel pointed to different statements made by Bullock at three different times to local investigating RCMP and the IIO.
Defence also noted that Bullock, with a record dating back to 2005, was initially uncooperative with RCMP due to his familiarity with the justice system. However, after an interview from the IIO, Bullock made another statement to local RCMP with additional details of the shooting incident.
A user of heroin and crystal methamphetamine for six months beforehand, Bullock admitted to getting high in Creston before carjacking the Toyota 4Runner.
He testified the weather was clear before outside Cranbrook, until visibility dropped to where he could only see roughly 10 feet in front of the vehicle, but noted that it had stopped snowing by the the time of his arrest after the shooting.
Bullock’s cross-examination will continue Wednesday with the trial expected to run into next week.