Sara Lewis, the widow of Donald Dwayne Lewis, the 5’4″ , 139 pound unarmed man shot and killed by RCMP Cst. Cole Brewer at McLeese Lake in August, 2006, has to represent herself at the coroner’s inquest into her husband’s death after repeated requests for legal aid were turned down.

The inquest has been convened in Williams Lake, BC at considerable public expense. Taxpayers fund the coroner, the coroner’s lawyer, the sheriffs, the court reporter, two lawyers for the RCMP and the dozen or so RCMP members, including media liaison representatives from Vancouver, who have been in attendance at the inquest.

Mr. Lewis’ widow, however, is forced to try to grapple with complex legal issues of admissibility of evidence and proper questions for cross-examination as she tries to find out why her wounded husband bled to death after Cst. Brewer handcuffed him to a tree.

According to Attorney General Wally Oppal’s recent letter to me, “I have great sympathy for what your client has endured, and I respect her efforts to discover the facts surrounding her husband’s death in what must be difficult circumstances. However, the government provides funding for legal representation only in very limited circumstances…family participation at a public inquest does not meet this threshold.”

The inquest continues, as do the RCMP lawyers’ efforts to portray Don Lewis, who was simply camping on Crown land when he was accosted by police, as someone who somehow deserved to die.