Mayerthorpe fatality inquiry begins
Almost six years after a shooting claimed the lives of four RCMP officers, a fatality inquiry has begun in Stony Plain, looking into what led to the deaths of constables Anthony Gordon, Leo Johnston, Brock Myrol and Peter Schiemann on March 3rd, 2005.
The four men were killed by James Roszko on a farm property near Mayerthorpe, before the gunman turned the weapon on himself.
A number of former and current members of the RCMP are set to testify, including Senior Deputy Commissioner Rod Knecht.
Early Monday, the assistant chief medical examiner of Alberta took the stand at the hearing.
Dr. Bernard Bannach gave a detailed analysis of the wounds found on each constable.
The doctor said Const. Gordon had gunshot wounds on the front side his body and in the back. The doctor said a heart injury likely would have seen the constable lose consciousness in a matter of 10 to 15 seconds.
The doctor went on to describe that Const. Myrol had a devastating gunshot wound to the head. Const. Johnston had four gunshot wounds, the first bullet was fatal breaking into three pieces after entering the body, the doctor said.
And Const. Schiemann had three gunshot wounds, with one on the upper part of his back, his upper high and wrist.
The doctor said none of the four Mounties would have survived their fatal injuries for even a full minute.
The gunman, Roszko, died from a gunshot wound to the chest. His manor of death was ruled a suicide by the medical examiner.
Family members who lost loved ones in the shooting have been granted standing to ask questions of witnesses.
"I feel that I have to be here for Leo. Whether it's important, whether it's going to be useful...I won't know until it's over," said Leo Johnston's mother, Grace Johnston.
The court also heard from two bailiffs who went to Roszko's farm that same day to repossess a Ford pickup truck he had stopped making payments on.
Roszko fled in the truck after unleashing two guard dogs. The two men testified that is when RCMP officers were first called out.
"When I was in attendance with the RCMP officers that were, they were extremely cognizant of the potential of Mr. Roszko," said Robert Parry, civil enforcement bailiff.
In Alberta, public inquiries are not about assigning blame or punishment. Instead, they work to establish the cause, manner, time, place and circumstances of death. Afterward, the presiding judge may make non-binding recommendations on how to avoid similar scenarios in the future.
Shawn Henessey and Dennis Cheeseman, two men who were each convicted of four counts of manslaughter in relation to the case, were denied standing in the fatality inquiry.
They are both serving prison terms for their roles. Cheeseman is eligible for day parole and Hennessey is looking to appeal his sentence through the Supreme Court of Canada.
The fatality inquiry is expected to last about two weeks.
With files from David Ewasuk