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Witnesses take stand in RCMP firearm trial

Testimony gets underway as trial begins for RCMP officer charged with careless use or storage of a firearm from an incident in 2012.

The trial of a Cranbrook RCMP officer continued Tuesday in Cranbrook Supreme Court, as witnesses and responding officers testified in front of Justice Trevor Armstrong and the jury.

Richard Drought was charged with careless use or storage of a firearm after the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) recommended the charge that stemmed from a police incident in October 2012.

Crown counsel Oleh Kuzma set up the framework of the trial in his opening statement to Justice Trevor Armstrong and the jury.

On Oct. 2, 2012 a Toyota 4Runner was violently carjacked near Yahk by Nickolas Bullock and a young female companion who was underage at the time and can't be identified.

Bullock drove the vehicle towards Cranbrook, with the RCMP beginning a pursuit near Elizabeth Lake that ended on a rural acreage at the top of Victoria Avenue near the College of the Rockies Gold Creek campus.

In the course of the incident, a firearm was discharged as the driver of the SUV steered towards a parked RCMP cruiser.

The day began with Justice Armstrong delivering instructions to the jury, before two RCMP officers and two witnesses to the incident testified.

The two witnesses did not see the actual gunshots, but heard the loud bang that is indicative of a firearm discharging.

In both cases, they both described how the police siren became louder as the cruiser arrived on scene with flashing blue and red emergency lights.

One witness who was in her home during the incident testified she saw an SUV coming out of a wooded area driving towards a parked RCMP cruiser before hearing 'three to four' loud bangs. The witness did not see an RCMP officer firing a weapon.

Upon hearing the shots, she ducked down under the windowsill from her viewing point before moving to another room and opening the window.

She further testified at that point that she could hear one authoritative voice and a different voice that responded in mumbles.

Another witness who was in her home during the incident, but did not see the actual shooting testified she hear 'five or six' loud bangs in quick succession. She went and looked out the back door of the home, which provided a line of sight to the scene.

She saw the police cruiser and heard two voices—one calling for backup, while the other was voice was distraught and hysterical.

Two RCMP officers who attended the scene also testified to the court.

Cpl. Spencer Marginson photographed the area upon arrival in the early hours of Oct. 3, 2012. He then took photos of tire impressions and returned the next day during daylight hours for further photographic documentation.

Cpl. Jeffrey Whitfield provided testimony as he was asked to survey the scene, providing an overview map and a specific site map illustrating the location of the police vehicle and other evidence, such as shell casings, were found.

The trial is expected to run 10-13 days.