Defence starts presenting evidence in RCMP officer Nelson jury trial
With the crown having wrapped-up their case earlier this week in Castlegar RCMP Constable Jason Tait’s manslaughter trial in the 2015 shooting death of Waylon Jesse Edey, Defence Lawyer David Butcher began Thursday’s proceedings, October 22nd 2020, with opening statements for the jury.
Butcher’s podium was centre stage Thursday morning, facing what would typically be a packed audience in Nelson’s Capitol Theatre, but on this day physically distanced jury members filled what seemed a mile-long gap between the actual proceedings and the members of public at the back of the room.
He states that Tait does not in fact have to say anything, moving on to call the IIO’s initial investigation of the incident unqualified and under resourced; minutes later Constable Tait walked to the witness stand for his first statement.
The 38-year old Castlegar resident apologized to Edey’s family and then gave the room some background information as to his time in the Canadian Armed Forces before later joining Castlegar RCMP in 2010.
The following is Tait’s recollection of the day and events leading up to the incident:
He recalls signing back on for duty that evening, January 29th 2015, by request or order of a superior and headed in the direction of the truck scales in Ootischenia aiming to help locate an impaired driver in the area.
Edey was known to be prohibited from driving, a flight-risk and violent towards police, he had also been the topic of local police for a lot of the afternoon following reports from a Nelson bar owner and a Castlegar drive-thru.
Tait says he was pulled over near Columbia Road in Ootischenia that evening when he caught the pickup truck’s licence plate as it drove past; Tait turned on his lights, completed a three-point turn and turned on his sirens as he pursued the vehicle towards Castlegar.
He says he implemented what he calls a back-up plan when reaching the bottle neck at the Kinnaird Bridge: overtaking, pulling in front of Edey’s truck sideways and stopping in the west-bound lane.
Tait recalls exiting his police vehicle when the pick-up continued in his direction, moving into the east-bound lane by foot only for the truck to move into that same lane and calls the moments he fired his service pistol his “Hail Mary” to not getting killed.
The Supreme Court case kicked off September 28th and will have lasted a full month next Wednesday.