The father of a man shot and killed by Winnipeg police told an inquest examining the death that he still carries memories of police lights and the body of his son outside their home.
“I kept saying, ‘Is he all right? Is he breathing?’” Brian McDougall testified Monday from a wheelchair.
McDougall told the court he remembers someone waking him up in the early morning hours of August 2nd, 2008, saying they heard a shot.
But he didn’t remember much else until he was outside looking at the body of his son, Craig McDougall.
“From then on, I didn’t really know what I was doing,” he said.
READ MORE: Inquest into Winnipeg Police shooting begins
McDougall said he ran toward his son but was tackled by a police officer, who put his knee on the back of his neck. He ended up in a cruiser and was taken to police headquarters. It was only much later that he learned his son was dead.
But much of what happened before and after the incident was beyond recall eight years later. There were long pauses after questions from family lawyer Corey Shefman, which often had to be repeated to elicit any response at all.
“It’s very confusing when you try and remember everything all at once.”
Later, when Crown attorney David Gray suggested it was his voice on the first 911 call that brought police to the house where the shooting occurred, McDougall denied it.
“I don’t think so,” he said after listening to the call where a voice like his said Craig McDougall and another man were trying to break into the house after being kicked out.
McDougall’s testimony was interrupted when he became ill in the early afternoon and was taken away by family members. It was unclear when he might return.
Craig McDougall, who was 26, was shot outside his home after police responded to a report of an altercation. Police said McDougall had a knife in his hand and refused repeated orders to drop it.
McDougall’s relatives have said he was only carrying a cellphone and was talking with his girlfriend, who heard four shots fired; three of them striking McDougall, who was also shot with a stun gun. Police later said they recovered a knife at the scene, but did not provide any further details as an investigation was launched.
Brian McDougall had arrived back in Winnipeg the evening of Aug. 1, 2008, from a visit to the Wasagamack First Nation, about 600 kilometres north.
He said he went to his house briefly, then went to a restaurant where he said he had a few beers and stayed until closing time.
McDougall went home and eventually went to bed, after asking others in the house to be quiet. He said he didn’t remember asking anyone to leave and was awoken by others who heard the shots.
This inquest, unlike some others in Manitoba, has been given a broader mandate to look at whether systemic racism played a role in the indigenous man’s death.
At the time, the shooting was criticized by Manitoba indigenous leaders.
One said police appeared to be on ‘killing sprees’ in the wake of two other deaths of young indigenous men: Matthew Dumas in 2005 and Michael Langan in 2008. Dumas was shot by police after he refused to drop a screwdriver. Langan died after being shocked with a police stun gun after he refused orders to drop a knife.
Inquests into both cases found police acted appropriately.
The inquest into McDougall’s death was called in 2013 and was delayed this summer just as it was about to get underway. At the time, it was said the delay was the result of a witness who had changed their statement from the time of the shooting.
The inquest is scheduled to continue all month and closing arguments are to take place in mid-December.