IIO, firearms expert testifies at RCMP trial

Trial underway for RCMP officer charged with careless use of a firearm during police incident in 2012.

  • Oct. 8, 2015 10:00 a.m.

A firearms technician, investigating officer and bystander entered their testimony into the court record on Thursday in the trial of an RCMP officer.

Richard Drought is charged with careless use or storage of a firearm following a police incident in October 2012 in Cranbrook.

The case is being heard in Cranbrook Supreme Court in front of Justice Trevor Armstrong.

Drought was in pursuit of a stolen SUV from a carjacking near Yahk that ended on a rural property near the top of Victoria Avenue near the College of the Rockies Gold Creek campus in the evening of Oct. 2, 2012.

The SUV entered a property, turned around and drove towards a police cruiser that was parked at the entrance. Gunshots from a Smith & Wesson 9mm pistol were fired into the vehicle.

The driver of the SUV, Nickolas Bullock, was shot twice in the shoulder and the wrist, and was travelling with an underage female who can’t be identified.

Lauren MacAuley, a forensic specialist who is trained in firearms testing, impact damage assessment and shooting scene reconstruction, broke down her analysis of the bullet impact and damage to the SUV.

MacAuley said seven shots travelled in a trajectory from the front passenger side of the windshield angling towards the drivers side. Two more shots traveled in a trajectory from the rear passenger window towards the front of the drivers side.

Under cross examination, the defence counsel suggested that, with MacAuley’s evidence, every shot was directed towards the front driver’s side of the vehicle and that bullets used by RCMP officers are designed to fragment.

Defence also cross-examined Sherman Mah, the officer assigned to the case from the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), which investigates any officer-related incidents of death or serious harm to determine if an officer committed an offence.

The shooting incident on Oct. 2, 2012, was only the second investigation from the IIO, which was a newly created investigatory body at the time.

Defence counsel criticized Mah for not having the necessary equipment to document the scene, while Mah said he relied on evidence collected—and equipment—from local RCMP officers before his arrival.

A nearby homeowner saw the police cruiser and heard what he described as ‘tapping’ in quick succession, had audio testimony played for the court, as he is currently out of the country. The witness did not see the shooting itself, but heard three separate voices afterwards.