Kevin St. Arnaud

Kevin St. Arnaud

The first two days of the inquest into the police shooting death of Kevin St. Arnaud on December 19, 2004 have been completed. The two RCMP officers involved in the incident are scheduled to testify Tuesday morning, January 23rd, at the Vanderhoof courthouse. The inquest starts at 9:30 a.m.

Last Thursday, forensic pathologist Dr. James McNaughton testified that Kevin St. Arnaud, 29, was killed by three gunshots fired in a downward trajectory into his chest from a distant range. He said he could not comment on an expert reconstruction showing that the shooter’s likely standing position was between 2.9 meters (8 ft.) and 5.5 meters (18 ft.) from where the body came to rest. Dr. McNaughton said the trajectory was consistent with the shooter firing from a standing position with his gun at eye level if both he and the deceased were standing. Dr. McNaughton also testified that St. Arnaud had a blood alcohol level of .20%, indicating intoxication, but had no other drugs (aside from a small amount of aspirin) in his tissues or fluids.

Friends who were with Kevin St. Arnaud at a Christmas party earlier on the night of the shooting described him as being happy and as the “life of the party”. He was also described as being a gifted artist and intelligent and conscientious worker.

Another acquaintance, Mike Buckley, testified that St. Arnaud came to his home and woke him up after midnight. According to Buckley, St. Arnaud was very drunk and had one hand in a professionally wrapped bandage. When St. Arnaud refused to leave, Buckley said he would have used physical force against St. Arnaud, would have “laid into him”, but it wouldn’t have been right, since St. Arnaud was obviously drunk and had only one good hand.

Local resident Abe Klassen testified he saw a police officer chase a suspect into the soccer field, yelling “stop”. The suspect stopped, turned and threw both hands in the air in apparent surrender. A few moments later, Klassen heard two gunshots in quick succession. He next saw the suspect lying on the field and two police officers approaching him.

Police reported the shooting over the radio at 1:09 a.m. December 19, 2004. No weapons of any kind were found on or near St. Arnaud. The RCMP themselves investigated the shooting, as is B.C. practice, and no charges were ever laid. Observers cannot recall charges ever being laid against a police officer in British Columbia as a result of a fatal shooting.

A few months after St. Arnaud was killed, in another northern B.C. community, Houston, another unarmed young man was shot to death by an RCMP officer. The RCMP investigated the homicide of Ian Bush and no charges were laid in that case either. The mandatory inquest into Ian Bush’s death has not yet been held.