Indigenous man was pepper-sprayed before fatal shooting by RCMP in Saskatchewan

BATTLEFORD, Sask. — A police officer says an Indigenous man who died in 2017 after being shot by Saskatchewan RCMP was hit with pepper spray first.

An inquest into the death Brydon Whitstone heard that officers in North Battleford, Sask., had boxed in a vehicle carrying Whitstone and a passenger after a police chase.

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RCMP Sgt. Pernell St. Pierre told the inquest he broke the car's passenger side window to get a better look inside.

He said he released pepper spray inside the car but Whitstone did not react to it.

St. Pierre said Whitstone, who was 22, also didn't respond to calls from officers to show his hands.

The inquest had already heard that Whitstone put his right hand into his pants after he was told to get out of the car, even though he didn't have a weapon.

RCMP officers testified they followed the sedan Whitstone was in because it matched the description of one involved in a possible drive-by shooting, but the car failed to stop.

The inquest heard the car Whitstone was driving crashed into two police vehicles and was badly damaged before it finally came to rest.

Const. Jerry Abbott, the officer who shot Whitstone, told the inquest Whitstone appeared to reach for something in his pocket which Abbott thought was a gun, so he shot the man from Onion Lake, Sask., twice in the chest.

An investigation by Regina police determined no criminal charges should be filed against police.

The inquest is expected to conclude Friday. (CJNB)

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