Inquiry into shooting death of RCMP officer David Wynn underway
The first day of an inquiry into the deaths of an Alberta RCMP member and suspect finished Wednesday, the beginning of a three-day process families hope will bring change to police procedures.
Const. David Wynn, 42, was killed at St. Albert’s Apex Casino while investigating a stolen truck in 2015.
Eyewitnesses described Wynn and his partner, Auxiliary Constable Derek Bond, chasing a man. One of the officers tried to grab the suspect, who pulled a gun and shot both officers in the ensuing struggle.
Bond was shot in the arm and torso but survived. Wynn died in hospital four days later.
On Wednesday, the medical examiner told a St. Albert courtroom Wynn suffered a gunshot wound to the upper forehead. Court heard “there was both an entry wound and an exit wound present on the body.”
“Four years later, to have to go back to all of those little details was extremely hard,” widow Shelly MacInnis-Wynn told CTV News.
She acknowledged the hearings aren't called to assess blame as a trial would, but meant to recommend how such tragedies can be avoided.
“These inquiries are done because of safety issues or to better the organization. And I think it's important that if a judge is making those recommendations they should really follow through with them,” MacInnis-Wynn said earlier in the day.
The inquiry is also looking into the death of Shawn Rehn, the suspected car thief.
Rehn’s body was found by RCMP in a nearby acreage home 10 hours after Wynn was shot. A tactical team reported hearing a gunshot, then entered the home through a basement window.
The inquiry was told Rehn took his own life based on the trajectory of the bullet and the injuries, which the medical examiner testified were “absolutely consistent with contact range entry gunshot wounds.”
Rehn had been out on bail in 2015 while facing 15 charges, including escaping lawful custody, possession of a prohibited firearm and failing to show up to a previous bail hearing.
Senior RCMP officers questioned at the time why Rehn was out on the street. Alberta's justice minister called for a review of how the case was handled.
On Wednesday, a senior justice department official also testified on changes made to the bail system since 2015.
As was common practice then, a police officer presented at Rehn’s bail hearing. There was no oversight by the province.
“They were pretty well stand-alone,” suggested Wednesday’s inquiry counsel.
“Correct,” replied the assistant deputy minister.
In 2017, Alberta stopped using police officers to stand in for Crown prosecutors during bail hearings. The use of auxiliary constables has also been restricted.
“I think that was a good change,” Wynn said. “And I think that was necessary to happen.”
She has attempted to get a law passed to require prosecutors to attend bail hearings and reveal the applicant's criminal history. While the first objective has been achieved, she said the second is still unfulfilled.
“There still is that loophole,” Wynn said. “It's not mandatory for officers or prosecutors to bring all that information forward.
“I think it's something they do have to address.”
Wynn said it's been a long road for her and her family. She is raising three boys, now 17, 19 and 20 years old.
She credits help from a group called Camp FACES, which assists first-responder families suffering from sudden trauma, with making a big difference.
“They are absolutely amazing and have been a huge support for myself and my family.”
Wynn said it was at Camp FACES that the whole family learned a vital lesson.
“Seeing the families who have children who are much, much younger who have lost their fathers or their mothers, I'm thankful (my sons) got to spend a lot of time and have a lot of memories of their dad,” she said.
“As I see all of these families, I truly am thankful that they did have the time they did with him.”
With files from CTV Edmonton’s Bill Fortier and The Canadian Press