RCMP officer tells jury he was scared of police operation before officers shot man at rest area

An RCMP officer told a jury he got scared during a police operation in July 2018 at a rest area just west of Whitecourt.

const. Ian Paddick was cross-examined on Friday during the trial of two of his fellow officers. Cpl. Randy Stenger and Const. Jessica Brown is charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of Clayton Crawford. Paddick, Stenger and Brown were based out of the Whitecourt attachment at the time of the incident.

Both defendants have pleaded not guilty and their attorneys say the officers acted in self-defense. They fired 11 shots. Crawford was hit ten times.

« We are trained to stop the threat, » Paddick said.

On July 3, 2018, RCMP were looking for a 26-year-old purple Dodge Durango. He was seen fleeing a shooting scene the day before in Valhalla Centre, a small hamlet west of Grande Prairie, Alberta.

Crawford’s girlfriend was shot in the leg by someone shooting from outside their home.

The girlfriend told police she believed Crawford was the intended target for a drug debt.

She also said Crawford fled the scene after the shooting in the purple truck.

When the purple truck was spotted at a rest area west of Whitecourt, Paddick and the two accused approached the vehicle in staggered formation. They were wearing bulletproof vests and their weapons were drawn.

At Friday’s trial, Paddick agreed with defense attorney Robb Beeman that he had a « significant concern » for his safety. He also agreed that drug traffickers often don’t care about public safety and could potentially be armed.

Paddick said he was « laser focused » on what was going on in the truck because « his life and the lives of his colleagues depended on it ».

He testified that he was also worried because there were other civilian vehicles at the rest area.

When the three officers approached the truck, they could see that the driver was sleeping. Paddick said he knocked on the window and told the driver he was under arrest.

At first, Crawford seemed surprised and raised his hands, but Paddick testified that the driver suddenly lowered his head and arms under the steering wheel. He said he feared Crawford would reach for a gun.

« This is a very significant threat to the RCMP and to the public, » Beeman said.

Paddick agreed.

A fourth officer watches a rest area west of Whitecourt as shots are fired. The photo is an image from RCMP on-board camera footage. (Exhibit/RCMP)

Video from dash cameras of RCMP vehicles shows Crawford started the car and almost immediately began backing up towards the officers.

« I knew we were definitely at a big risk, » Paddick said. He and Brown were trying to get away from the truck.

When the first shot rang out, the truck was still backing up.

A total of 11 shots were fired. An autopsy later showed that Crawford had suffered ten gunshot wounds.

Paddick testified that it was a traumatic incident that he had « thought about enough » since then.

Fatal thigh wound

After the gunshots, Crawford pulled out of the rest area, crossed the freeway, and stopped at the tree line.

The purple truck driven by Clayton Crawford stopped at a treeline across from a rest area. (Exhibit/RCMP)

Two days later, medical examiner Dr Bernard Bannach performed an autopsy.

He testified Friday that Crawford died of loss of blood from multiple gunshot wounds.

The most serious injury was to Crawford’s upper left thigh as she severed the femoral artery.

Bannach said with such a life-threatening injury, he believed it would take between 30 seconds and two minutes to lose consciousness and less than five minutes to lose his life.

Crawford was also hit by bullets that grazed his head, shoulder and hand.

He had methamphetamine in his system at the time of his death, in amounts Bannach described as non-lethal. There was also cannabis in his system.

The trial is expected to last three weeks.

The jury has been told that Stenger and Brown will testify in their own defense.


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