Inquest into the death of Ian Bush
Update May 26, 8:00 am: You can read Dawson Bush's comments of the inquest here, as well as the testimony of Darren Woroshelo, training officer of Paul Koester.
Update 6:30pm, May 24th 2007: Picture of the Community Hall where the proceedings are taking place, and two images of the "Meedja" (CTV and Global News vans). I heard on CBC Radio an interview with Renee Bush, sister of Ian Bush. She was talking about what the coroner's testimony was, and how he described the condition of Ian Bush's body. God, that can't have been easy for the family.
This week the inquest into the shooting death of Ian Bush at the RCMP detachment began at the Community Hall in Houston. While I was driving in my work van I heard the reports of Constable Paul Koester's testimony. This is the Vancouver Province is reporting:
HOUSTON -- An RCMP expert on blood-spatter evidence told an inquest into the death of Ian Bush yesterday that the police version of the shooting is far-fetched but not impossible.
On the radio, it was reported that Koester testified to being punched several times, including while he attempted to grab his baton, and while he tried to call for help. The Province continues:
Const. Paul Koester told homicide investigators last year he feared Bush, 22, was about to choke him into unconsciousness, telling the rookie police officer to "take [his] last breath." With Bush on Koester's back, Koester said he pulled his pistol as a last resort, reached behind Bush, hit him with the barrel a few times and then shot him once in the back of the head on Oct. 29, 2005.
Coroner's counsel Mitch Houg said he expects Koester to say he arrested Bush outside the Houston hockey arena for having open liquor in the parking lot.
Houg said Bush gave Koester a false name, which the constable knew right away was false, so he took him into custody for two offences -- having open liquor and providing a false name.
Houg said Koester is expected to say that relations with Bush were cordial and then Bush became abusive and a fight broke out.
"Const. Koester received a blow to the head with sufficient force to stun him," Houg said.
They wrestled until they landed on a couch with Bush on top of Koester.
Bush's chest was forcing down on Koester's back, said Houg.
"Mr. Bush had one or both arms around [Koester's] neck."
Houg said Koester withdrew his pistol and reached around to bludgeon Bush with the barrel end.
"He decided he was not able to extricate himself from the [choke hold] and . . . made his decision to discharge his weapon," said Houg.
Koester will continue to be cross-examined this week. If the events described by Koester that night in October 2005 are truthful, then I believe he was justified in what he did. When it comes to a matter of life or death, one must do whatever it takes to protect oneself. You cannot simply assault an officer like that.
The reasons for his arrest and detainment are certainly questionable. One of the charges included "having open alcohol" in a public place, although seems the bottle of beer he held was unopened. He also gave police a false name when asked for identification. It seems as though the officers were familiar with Bush, and knew it was him. Bush obviously thought it was humourous to say he was someone else. Although the toxicology reports stated that Bush's "blood alcohol" level was .17, that doesn't necessarily mean Bush was a raving drunken lunatic at the time. That is certainly enough alcohol to impair ones judgment,and probably explains why he gave a false name. But unless he was being aggressive at the time, I'm not sure why the officers couldn't have told him to leave the arena and go home. If they had, none of this would have happened.
Intoxicated or not, that doesn't excuse attacking a police officer. It's also no excuse to lie to the police. "Joking around" with them is a sure way get yourself into trouble.
I'll be paying attention to this over the next few days, as more testimony is reported.