'He was harmless': Sisters, RCMP officers testify at Silverquill RCMP shooting death inquest
It’s been over 32 months since the Silverquill family last saw Lucien, then a 37-year-old man, living on the Fishing Lake First Nation.
During a police altercation on Aug. 28, 2019, Silverquill was shot twice at his home on reserve. The two police officers that fired their weapons — eventually ending Silverquill’s life —took the stand on Tuesday in Yorkton during the police inquest into the death.
The two RCMP members spent Tuesday morning recalling the incident, and answering questions from a jury, along with lawyers facilitating the inquest. Silverquill had been shot twice, once in the right hip and another in the left lung area, according to the RCMP members who have since left the Wadena RCMP Detachment.
The members said the entire altercation lasted no longer than 30 seconds.
When the pair arrived, they said they observed Silverquill with two knives, one in each of his hands. Instead of tasing the victim, or attempting to discharge pepper spray, the pair each shot Silverquill once, seconds apart. Factors leading to the decision not to tase included range, and intoxication, and the sergeant who responded was not fully certified to use his taser.
They testified that CPR was administered, but the victim later succumbed to his injuries on scene. The pair claimed Silverquill was under the influence of methamphetamines.
Following the incident, the members said they became worried about retaliation, as many vehicles approached the yard which housed multiple members of the Silverquill family, including young children.
When asked why the officers didn’t shoot at Silverquill’s hands, or knives, they said he was fidgety, and they are trained to stop threats.
Officers said they attempted to tell Silverquill to, “drop the knife,” but he didn’t comply.
The officers said they had visited the home on multiple occasions, all mental health related. They said Silverquill was seeing and talking to imaginary people, and at one time was transported to hospital for mental health help.
The officers said they didn’t believe the victim wanted to be killed by police, but he had no reactions to police command, and had called on officers to just, “do it,” while their weapons were drawn.
A video had been taken from the police cruisers as well, which automatically starts recording when sirens and lights are engaged in the cruisers.
'ALL I HEARD WAS SHOTS'
Family members of Silverquill were not in attendance Tuesday morning, but two of Lucien’s sisters in Florida Pelly and Delores Silverquill took the stand in the afternoon.
They considered their brother harmless, but felt that he needed help with his problems with addictions. They didn’t believe he had problems will illegal drugs, but said he struggled with alcohol and prescription drugs, like morphine.
One issue the pair brought up was the lack of addictions support services on reserve at Fishing Lake. They said one person helps community members with addictions struggles, but Delores herself admitted she didn’t know he existed until this past month.
“He would make you laugh,” Pelly described.
When asked to recall the Aug. 28th date which Lucien had died, Pelly said the RCMP were called multiple times and didn’t immediately respond. Pelly added that when the officers arrived, she had enough time to tell them he was in the house, she went to put her shoes on before she heard the gunfire.
“It seemed like they didn’t even talk to him … all I heard was shots,” she said.
Pelly didn’t believe the guns were needed in the situation.
Delores, meanwhile, described Lucien as angry that day. She initially called the RCMP once he began growing more and more agitated, looking for her then late partner, and Pelly’s husband.
She said it took RCMP 40 minutes to arrive.
“He was harmless,” she said.
Delores said Lucien struggled with drinking and pills, and he was diagnosed with HIV. She didn’t see the altercation, but heard the aftermath.
“I didn’t hear them say a thing to Lucy (Lucien) — just, bang,” Delores said.
She thought Lucien had been going into psychosis, saying he hadn’t slept in days. She didn’t think he had any mental health issues.
“He had good days and he had bad days,” Delores said.
The family said it feels as though it has also been victim of harassment by RCMP members. That includes frequent stops by RCMP members, a Yorkton surgery trip that ended with a car impound and weapons claims, along with false claims of drinking and driving.
After the officers who responded to the incident left the Wadena detachment, the family said the harassment issues stopped immediately, according to the sisters.
The inquest continues Wednesday at 9:30 a.m., with the inquest expected to wrap up Friday.