March for Justice ♦♦
Randy Fryingpan tasered ♦♦
Neil Stonechild inquest ♦♦
John Melenchuk ♦♦
George Bird ♦♦
Frank Joseph Paul ♦♦
The Wegner inquest ♦♦
Norton shooting ♦♦
RCMP attack FSIN ♦♦
of what happened to Melvin Bigsky is most likely in the original
reports, included on on this page in descending order: more often
than not the first reports are the most accurate. In all the
inquests so far into cops killing Natives, the police have lied
on the stand and have succeeded in discrediting the aboriginals
seeking justice -- except in the case of Darrell Night who was able to produce
unimpeachable evidence for his claim that Hatchen and
Munsen took him to the edge of town and left him there to freeze to
death. These killers were charged and found guilty of relatively
minor crimes and lost only their jobs . . . Sheila Steele
Inquest hears RCMP rules in dealing with dangerous suspect
Kim McNairn, Saskatchewan News Network; Saskatoon Starphoenix, Saturday, October 05, 2002
SASKATOON -- Two shots towards
the torso and a final one to the head were fired at Melvin Bigsky
the night he died, just like RCMP officers are trained to do
as a last resort to stop a dangerous suspect, an inquest heard
The RCMP handbook on using
lethal force was under scrutiny Friday on the final day of evidence
at the coroner's inquest into the shooting death of Bigsky on
a grid road east of Saskatoon in April 2001.
Jurors and the lawyer representing
Bigsky's family questioned if there were other ways Const. James
Flack (right) could have resolved the situation besides shooting
Bigsky in the head.
Bigsky was shot as the suspect
sat in the driver's side of a pickup truck in the ditch, the
rear wheels spinning in reverse.
In the previous minutes, he
and Flack had dealt blows to each other and then retreated to
their vehicles. A car chase ensued. Flack testified earlier this
week that he feared for his life.
Sgt. Sandy Ervin, who handles
training for the RCMP, told the inquest that lethal force is
just one component of a model officers use to help determine
the risk of a situation, and what actions are warranted.
Officers are taught to constantly
reassess circumstances to determine the best way to resolve a
situation and protect the public at large.
If suspects are co-operative,
he said, verbal communication works well. As the suspect becomes
more combative, so do the levels of force officers are authorized
to use -- hand controls, pepper spray, physical strikes, batons,
flashlights, and then lethal force.
However, if nothing else works
and the suspect must be stopped to protect the public safety,
officers are taught to shoot at the centre of the body. Firing
at legs and arms is discouraged, he said, because those areas
of the body are smaller and therefore harder to hit. The goal
at this point, said Ervin, is to stop the threat.
He told the jury of a training
exercise called "failure drill." Officers have five
seconds to draw the pistol, fire twice to the centre of mass,
and if the danger is still imminent, fire a final shot to the
"The first two shots delivered
have not had the desired effect. They haven't stopped the person,"
Ervin told reporters outside the courtroom.
"The best chance of stopping
them quickly is to deliver a shot to the head area. It gives
you the best chance to stop the person from doing what they are
doing at that particular time."
A stream of questions runs
through an officer's mind when responding to an incident, said
Ervin. In determining the risk, they need to know everything
from the number of suspects to how firm their footing is on the
ground. However an officer reacts is much more complex, he said,
than just the physical characteristics of the person.
Ron Piche, the lawyer representing
the Bigsky family at the inquest, contends Flack had other options
than to fire the fatal shot. He points to the RCMP policy on
shooting at tires. Officers are discouraged from firing at tires
when a vehicle is in motion.
However, the policy states
nothing about what to do with spinning tires on a stationary
vehicle as was the case with Bigsky that night. If Flack believed
Bigsky would use the truck to try and kill him, why not shoot
out the spinning wheel, asked Piche.
Risks associated with shooting
at spinning wheels include ricochet, said Ervin. He also said
often times vehicles can still move with flat tires.
The inquest continues Monday
with final addresses to the jury by the coroner and the lawyers
involved in the case. The jury is expected to begin deliberations
© Copyright 2002The Leader-Post (Regina)
'I feared for my life:' cop
Lethal force only option, officer testifies at inquest
Lori Coolican, The StarPhoenix, October 04, 2002
The RCMP officer who shot and
killed Melvin Bigsky on a grid road northeast of Saskatoon says
he felt he had no choice but to use lethal force, because Bigsky
wanted him dead.
"The suspect in this case
was trying to use his truck to kill me," Const. James Flack
told the coroner's inquest into Bigsky's death Thursday. "I
feared for my life and felt the only alternative I had was use
Flack, who joined the RCMP
in 1996, spent more than five hours in the witness box at Court
of Queen's Bench detailing his actions on the night of April
Though the inquest is scheduled
to conclude today, it has fallen behind schedule and will likely
continue next week.
Flack said there were "red
flags" going off in his head from the first moment of his
encounter with Ivan Indian, the owner of the truck, and his passengers,
Melvin and Rose Ann Bigsky.
He'd been dispatched to a complaint
of a drunk driver in a late-model pickup who'd nearly run a Saskatoon
couple into the ditch off Highway 41 a few minutes earlier.
When he spotted the truck,
it sped up, then turned onto a gravel road and stopped in a location
that could not be seen from the main road, he said.
He called for back-up immediately
because the situation felt wrong, Flack said. Before long Bigsky
started to approach his cruiser, asking "in an assertive
tone of voice" why they'd been stopped.
He ordered Bigsky back to the
truck, then Rose Ann approached and started talking to him. When
Melvin returned, impatiently demanding to know why they'd been
stopped, Flack said he drew his gun and pepper spray because
he couldn't see the other man's hands. Bigsky ignored his orders
to go back to the truck, saying, "Well, just f--ing shoot
me," Flack testified.
"I said, 'I don't want to do that, so go back to the truck.' "
Once he could see Bigsky's
hands, he put the gun away, he said. Rose Ann was telling Melvin
to return to the truck, and they began to "scuffle"
in front of him, so he pushed Bigsky and sent a shot of pepper
spray into his face.
Bigsky "became very irate
by being pepper sprayed," but soon walked back to the truck,
he told the jury. Ivan Indian got out, obviously drunk.
He denied being the driver
and claimed to be sober, but co-operated during his arrest for
drunk driving, Flack said.
Then he noticed Melvin and
Rose Ann fighting between the two vehicles, "striking at
each other in a wrestling-type fashion," he said.
Somehow, Melvin ended up flat
on his back in the road, not moving. Flack said he thought Bigsky
might have passed out, so he decided to handcuff him. He only
got one of the cuffs on before Bigsky sat up and the two men
began their own wrestling match.
Flack ended up on the bottom.
Bigsky punched him twice in the face, leaving a cut over one
of his eyes.
"I was feeling scared,"
Flack testified. "I had a guy who outweighed me by quite
a bit . . . straddling me and trying to beat me up. I feared
for my life at that time."
Flack said he managed to get
Bigsky off and retreated, but the bigger man followed him around
When Bigsky charged him, he
used his baton twice with no real effect, he said.
"I remember him saying,
'You shouldn't have f--ing done that.' "
He and the Bigskys got in their
separate vehicles. What followed was a bizarre car chase in reverse,
with Bigsky backing the truck towards the cruiser, and Flack
backing out of the way.
The truck lost control and
went into the ditch. Bigsky drove it through a field of summerfallow
and headed back towards the highway.
Flack said he stayed on the
road but followed the truck -- until Bigsky drove back onto the
road and straight towards him. The truck slammed into cruiser,
sending it into the ditch and nearly rolling it.
Flack couldn't get it free.
The truck was partly in the ditch, its back tires spinning. He
got out and drew his pistol.
"I was yelling, 'Shut
the truck off,' " he told the jury. "I felt the police
car was disabled, I didn't have anywhere to go. The vehicle was
rocking (backwards and forwards). There was no compliance with
. . . I was yelling at the
top of my lungs with what breath I had left."
His RCMP training had taught
him never to shoot at a moving vehicle or a spinning tire, he
said. Instead, he aimed at the middle of Bigsky's body. His first
two rounds went into the truck door with no result, and his training
told him to shoot elsewhere to stop the threat in those situations,
The third shot hit the back
of Bigsky's head, and he slumped over into his wife's lap.
Flack denied Rose Ann's claim
that her husband had his arms out the window yelling "I
give up" just before the shooting.
Throughout his cross-examination
by Ron Piche, lawyer for the Bigsky family, Flack maintained
he was following his training and had no choice. He was not concerned
that Rose Ann might be hit because he was confident enough in
his shooting abilities, he said.
He denied Piche's assertion
that he "drastically overreacted" to the situation,
saying it wasn't safe to wait for backup because he didn't know
how long that would be.
The truck was stuck in the ditch, but he didn't know if it would stay that way, he said.
"I knew it was stuck. I did not know the vehicle was immobile."
Flack is not facing any criminal charges in connection with the shooting.
He told the inquest he was transferred to another detachment because threats were made against his life sometime after the incident.
There is no indication the threats came from Bigsky's family, the inquest heard.
Officer accused of racism, inquest hears
Lori Coolican The StarPhoenix, Thursday, October 03, 2002
Melvin Bigsky accused Const.
James Flack of being a racist minutes before the RCMP officer
shot him with his service revolver, Bigsky's widow told the coroner's
inquest into his death Wednesday.
"The cop was scared because
there was two Natives," a tearful Rose Ann Bigsky told the
jury. "They were arguing about whether he was racist or
not when he pepper sprayed Melvin and told us to get back in
The 32-year-old mother of three
was distraught as she described the chaos that unfolded after
Flack responded to a drunk driving complaint a few kilometres
northeast of Saskatoon on April 27, 2001. It ended when Flack
shot Bigsky in the head.
Rose Ann and Melvin Bigsky,
along with her brother Ivan Indian, were driving to Saskatoon
from their farm near Nipawin, she testified. Melvin and Indian
had been drinking from a 26-ounce bottle of rye along the way.
"They only had a few drinks," she testified.
Mary-Ellen Sharp, an RCMP toxicologist
who analysed samples of Bigsky's body fluids, contradicted that
statement, telling the inquest his blood-alcohol level was more
than 0.25 -- a level at which most people would have trouble
Bigsky would have had to consume
between 21 and 54 ounces of hard liquor in the hours before his
death to reach that level, Sharp testified.
Rose Ann said when Indian noticed
the flashing lights of Flack's patrol car, he pulled off Highway
41 to a grid road and stopped, then asked her to take the driver's
seat because he knew he was impaired. The ruse didn't work.
Melvin got out of the truck
and began asking the officer why he'd pulled them over, but Flack
ordered him to get back in the vehicle while he took Indian to
his cruiser, she said. Shortly after that, Flack and Bigsky began
to argue outside the truck. Bigsky accused Flack of pulling them
over because they were aboriginal, saying he would not have stopped
a car full of white people, Rose Ann testified.
Flack was responding to a call
placed by Jay Beavis, a local bar owner who told the inquest
he had to drive in the ditch to avoid a head-on collision with
Indian's truck because it was driving in the wrong lane a few
"The cop got mad and pepper
sprayed him," Rose Ann said. They were ordered back to the
As she climbed in, she accidentally
hit the gear shift into neutral and the car coasted forward a
few feet -- and that's when Flack came over and told Melvin he
was under arrest for drunk driving, even though the engine wasn't
running, she said.
As Flack began putting handcuffs
on her husband, she came over and began asking why he was under
arrest, she said. Flack waved his arm and ordered her back inside
the truck -- but Melvin, partly blinded by pepper spray, thought
he was hurting her, she said.
"Melvin was just trying
to protect me."
Melvin swung his arm and struck
Flack. A wrestling match ensued, with Melvin getting the upper
hand. He was straddling the officer on the road and landed a
few punches before she stepped in, Rose Ann said.
"I told (Melvin) to leave
him alone, so Melvin let him up."
Flack went back to his cruiser
and the Bigskys got back in the truck. They started to drive
away, heading into the ditch and through a field of summerfallow,
They struck the cruiser just
as they got back on the road, sending it into the ditch. They
got stuck themselves as they tried to turn around. Melvin rocked
the truck in forward and reverse gear several times to free it,
only to get hung up again on the axle, she said. It wouldn't
"I told him, 'Just give
up,' so he put his arms out the window and said, 'I give up,
but don't do nothing to my wife, she had nothing to do with it,'
" she sobbed. "He was hollering. I could see the police
officer standing there with his gun out."
Melvin pulled his hands back
inside and turned to look at her when he suddenly slumped over
in her lap, she said. It took her a few moments to realize he'd
been shot in the head.
Rose Ann told the jury she
didn't hear the first two bullets hit the door of the truck --
just a "pinging" sound she thought was gravel from
the spinning truck wheel.
Rose Ann has a record of obstruction
and assault of police officers, and is in custody awaiting sentencing
for impersonating another inmate in an attempt to escape during
a court appearance in August.
The inquest is expected to
continue today with testimony from Flack and Indian.
© Copyright 2002 The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon)
Truck stuck, inquest hears
Bigsky at wheel of damaged vehicle when fatally shot
Lori Coolican, The StarPhoenix, October 2, 2002
Melvin Bigsky was behind the
wheel of a badly damaged truck that wasn't going anywhere when
RCMP Const. James Flack fired the shot that killed him, a coroner's
inquest heard Tuesday.
RCMP accident reconstructionist
Ian Mitchell told the six-member jury he arrived at the scene
of the fatal shooting on April 28, 2001, to find a blue truck
and a patrol car firmly stuck in the soft, dry dirt of the ditch.
The truck could not be taken
out of reverse, the rear tire on the driver's side was completely
disintegrated from spinning in place and the steering column
was damaged, he noted.
If Bigsky had somehow managed
to get it loose, driving the truck would have been difficult
and slow -- especially backward, Mitchell said.
"It would have been tough,
but it was doable."
Lawyer Ron Piche, who represents
Bigsky's family, told reporters Flack gave a statement a few
hours after the incident saying he knew the truck was incapable
of moving. Flack is expected to testify later this week.
"The question still comes
down to, why fire at the occupant of a vehicle that isn't going
anywhere?" Piche asked reporters. "That, in my view,
cries out for an explanation. Let's not forget, there's also
another occupant in that vehicle as well."
The incident began after Flack
pulled the truck over in order to arrest its owner, Bigsky's
friend Ivan Indian, for drunk driving. Once Indian was in the
back of his cruiser, the situation rapidly spun out of control.
Flack found himself in a frightening
altercation with Bigsky -- a tall, heavy-set man who was severely
intoxicated. Bigsky managed to wrestle Flack to the ground and
land a few punches to the officer's face, seemingly undeterred
by a blast of pepper spray and blows from Flack's baton.
He then climbed into the truck
with his wife Rose Ann, drove through a field of summerfallow,
and ended up back on the road. The truck appears to have been
on the wrong side of the road headed straight toward the cruiser
when Flack hit the gas and began steering for the ditch to avoid
a collision, Mitchell said.
The truck hit the driver's
side of the patrol car and sent it skidding into the ditch, where
it was buried up to its axle in dirt.
Bigsky was trying to back the
truck out of the opposite ditch, jammed in reverse, when it too
became stuck. Flack stood on the road a few metres away, toward
the back of the truck, fired two shots at an angle into the driver's
side door, but they didn't penetrate, the inquest heard.
Dean Dahlstrom, a civilian
firearms expert for the RCMP's forensic lab, testified the third
and ultimately fatal shot was a near-miss that came close to
just grazing the back of Bigsky's head.
The angle of the bullet indicates
Bigsky was looking away from Flack, with his head in profile,
when the officer fired that shot, he said.
"The shot came from the
side of the head, almost 90 degrees."
Bigsky's wife Rose Ann launched
a civil suit against the RCMP last year, claiming her husband
was holding his hands out the window and yelling "I give
up" when Flack fired his gun. She is in custody on unrelated
charges and is expected to testify later this week.
The RCMP conducted an internal
investigation that resulted in no charges against Flack. The
police force denies Rose Ann's story, saying the shooting was
© Copyright 2002 The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon)
Plan for racially balanced
jury hits snag: Several Natives decline jury duty in Bigsky inquest
Lori Coolican, The StarPhoenix, October 01, 2002
The coroner's jury which began
hearing evidence at Court of Queen's Bench Monday has a narrowly
defined task -- to decide on the date, place and manner of Melvin
Wayne Bigsky's death, and make recommendations to prevent similar
But issues of prejudice and
counter-prejudice had already pushed their way to the surface
even before jury selection was over.
Bigsky, 33, was fatally shot
in the head by RCMP Const. James Flack on the night of April
27, 2001, following a violent confrontation on a grid road near
Highway 41 just north of Saskatoon.
Bigsky's wife, Rose Ann, who
was sitting next to him in their friend Ivan Indian's pickup
truck when he died, claims Flack had no good reason to shoot,
because her husband was trying to give himself up at the time.
She launched a lawsuit against the RCMP last year.
Flack's version of events --
detailed later in the RCMP's statement of defence -- differs
widely, saying the shooting was justified for the sake of Flack's
safety, as well as that of the public and of Rose Ann herself.
Bigsky, who was severely intoxicated
and had already assaulted Flack and rammed his patrol car with
the truck, was trying to drive away and was most certainly not
surrendering, according to the RCMP's version.
The inquest drew potential
jurors from two pools of local residents -- aboriginal and non-aboriginal
-- with the intention of having both groups equally represented
on the six-member panel. However, that plan hit a snag when several
prospective jurors from the aboriginal pool asked to be excused.
Most of them expressed doubts
about their ability to be impartial, because they hold negative
feelings about the RCMP. One woman told presiding coroner Doug
Kovatch she's prejudiced against the RCMP, because "they're
prejudiced against us."
In the end, the pool of prospective
aboriginal jurors ran out, with only two on the panel.
"I think already you've
seen, both from the aboriginal community and the white community,
certain views that people are predisposed to have with respect
to this," Ron Piche, lawyer for the Bigsky family, told
reporters outside court.
of those views, the aboriginal contingent on this jury is less
than what we would have liked to have seen."
Most of the testimony the jury
heard Monday outlined evidence and photographs gathered at the
scene of the shooting. The inquest also heard an audio tape of
radio communications between various RCMP and city police officers
as the situation unfolded, including snatches of conversation
between Flack and a dispatcher as he called repeatedly for backup.
Indian, who was a drunk driving suspect, was in the back of his
Flack can be heard reporting
that Bigsky had been pepper sprayed but was trying to back the
truck into his cruiser, then later telling the dispatcher that
a man and woman were fighting inside the truck.
"I'm bleeding pretty good
here," Flack reports later. He'd suffered a black eye and
a gash on his forehead while trying to handcuff Bigsky. The cuffs
were found later, still attached to one of Bigsky's wrists.
"He's coming right at
me," a breathless Flack tells the dispatcher moments later.
Dead air follows, then he returns to the radio and reports, "suspect
has been shot."
Sparks flew momentarily as
the RCMP's lawyer, Bruce Gibson, raised the issue of criminal
records. Both Indian and Bigsky have past convictions for violence,
and Rose Ann has several for obstructing and assaulting peace
Those aren't relevant to whether
the shooting was proper, Piche argued, because Bigsky's past
was unknown to Flack at the time. Kovatch let the evidence in,
saying he'll speak to the jury later about how it can be applied
to the case.
Several members of Bigsky's
family attended the hearing but refused to speak to the media.
His mother Christine was overcome
as an RCMP witness described his injuries and explained a series
of photographs taken during the autopsy. She left the room sobbing
and was soon followed by the rest of the family.
"Regardless of the troubles
that Melvin Bigsky had in his life, he's a son, he's a brother
to these people," Piche said. "And they continue to
have very deep questions as to what happened here."
© Copyright 2002 The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon)
Inquest begins into death of man shot by police
Lori Coolican of The StarPhoenix, September 30, 2002
Two vastly different versions
of the dramatic shooting by police of an aboriginal man with
a violent past are likely to emerge this week, as a coroner's
inquest examines the death of Melvin Wayne Bigsky.
The 33-year-old was fatally
shot on April 27, 2001 during a confrontation with a lone RCMP
officer on a gravel road just off Highway 41 near Saskatoon.
Coroner Doug Kovatch will oversee
the hearing, which begins today and is expected to last all week
at Court of Queen's Bench. A six-member jury will make findings
on the date, location and cause of death, as well as recommendations
on how to prevent a similar death in the future.
Bigsky and his wife Rose Ann
were in a truck driven by their friend Ivan Indian, on their
way to Saskatoon from Nipawin, when a lone RCMP officer pulled
them over to investigate a report of a drunk driver.
RCMP officials have said Indian
ignored the officer's flashing lights and turned onto the gravel
road, continuing for about a kilometre before abruptly stopping.
The struggle with Bigsky unfolded while the officer was trying
to process Indian for a drunk driving charge.
The RCMP major crimes unit
investigated the incident, and the provincial Justice Department
determined there was no basis for criminal charges against the
officer, who had been on the force for five years at the time.
His name has never been made public.
Rose Ann launched a lawsuit
against the RCMP and the Attorney General less than a month after
the shooting, claiming her husband died needlessly while holding
out his empty hands and yelling, "I give up."
She also claimed officers arrested
her without cause and held her in a jail cell, splattered with
her husband's blood, until the following day, refusing to even
tell her if he was alive or dead.
The RCMP vehemently denied
those claims two months later in a detailed statement of defence,
saying the officer used deadly force only after all other methods
-- verbal warnings, a baton and pepper spray -- had failed to
get a drunken and belligerent Bigsky under control.
Bigsky's lengthy record included
pleading guilty to manslaughter in 1994 for stomping one of his
relatives to death during a drinking party.
He and his wife disobeyed several
orders to remain in the vehicle while the officer dealt with
Indian. Bigsky overpowered the officer during the confrontation,
pinning him to the ground and striking him in the face several
times, according to the defence statement.
It also alleges Bigsky punched
Rose Ann in the head while she stood outside the truck, then
later got behind the wheel and rammed the cruiser's driver-side
door with the truck, pushing it into the ditch and disabling
The truck got hung up and Bigsky
was behind the wheel trying to get it free, ignoring the officer's
repeated orders to turn the engine off, when the shots were fired,
according to the RCMP's statement. Rose Ann was in the passenger
seat next to him at the time.
She was informed of her husband's
death while still at the scene, was asked to change her clothes
while in custody and was offered a shower and grief counselling
during her detention -- which was warranted because she had outstanding
charges of theft and driving while disqualified, it adds.
© Copyright 2002 The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon)
RCMP puts new spin on shooting
Police version differs widely from story given by Bigsky's widow
By Lori Coolican of The StarPhoenix, July 12, 2001
The RCMP's version of the fatal
shooting of 33-year-old Melvin Bigsky on Highway 41 near Saskatoon
in April differs widely from allegations made by his widow in
her lawsuit against the Attorney General of Canada.
In a statement of defence filed
last week and obtained by The StarPhoenix, the police force gives
a detailed account of the terrifying confrontation between Bigsky
and an unnamed constable, as well as their treatment of his widow,
Rose Ann, in the hours after his death.
The officer was on routine
patrol at about 8:20 p.m. on April 27 when he responded to a
report of a drunk driver in a truck registered to Ivan Indian,
who had a criminal record including violence and weapons convictions.
Noting the truck was straddling
the white line, the officer turned his cruiser around to follow
- but the truck sped up, the statement of defence says.
It didn't stop for his emergency
lights, and though he could see a number of people inside, he
couldn't tell how many there were. He called for backup. The
truck slowed down, turned south onto a gravel road, continued
for about one kilometre and suddenly stopped.
While the officer waited in
his car for help, Melvin Bigsky, apparently drunk, got out of
the truck and came toward him, demanding to know why they had
been stopped, the document states. The officer told him to get
back in the truck, which he eventually did.
"During this time, it
appeared the other individuals in the truck, including the individual
in the drivers' seat, were switching places," the statement
A few minutes later, Rose Ann
Bigsky got out and approached the cruiser. While the officer
questioned her about who was driving, Melvin once again got out
and "moved aggressively towards the constable. Bigsky appeared
angry," the defence says.
The officer pulled out his
gun and pepper spray, pointing both at the man and ordering him
back to the truck.
"Bigsky yelled `go ahead
. . . f--n shoot me.' The constable
explained that he did not want to shoot and once again directed
Bigsky to return to the truck," the statement says.
When the man started to move
away, the officer returned his gun to its holster, but Bigsky
came back, pushing Rose Ann aside, it says. The constable pushed
the 250-pound man with no affect. The officer sprayed him in
the face with pepper spray and he staggered back to the truck.
Then, Ivan Indian got out.
He co-operated during his arrest for drunk driving and was placed
in the back of the cruiser without handcuffs. Rose Ann was told
to return to the truck. She walked to the back of the vehicle
and leaned against it, the statement says.
Inside the cruiser, the constable
was talking to Indian. Meanwhile, Melvin got out of the truck
again and punched Rose Ann in the head before falling on his
back, it says.
The constable, still waiting
for backup but unwilling to let the assault go on, got out of
his cruiser and tried to arrest Melvin, the defence says.
He got one handcuff on the
man, then "Bigsky overpowered the constable and ended up
on top of the constable on the road," it states. "Bigsky
punched the constable two times in the face. The fight continued
and the constable was able to get to his feet and strike Bigsky
two times with his tactical baton. Both strikes appeared to have
no affect on Bigsky who then began to chase the constable around
Bigsky ran to the truck and
got in, followed by Rose Ann.
The officer called in the situation
on his radio. His eye was bleeding and his vision was getting
blurry, the statement says. The truck began backing toward him,
so he put the cruiser in reverse and backed away from it.
"It appeared that Bigsky
lost control of the truck and ended up backing into the ditch.
Bigsky then drove the truck into an adjacent field," the
Turning on his siren, the officer
noticed the truck was headed back his way. "The constable
was concerned that Bigsky would return to the main highway and
endanger the lives of the public. It was approaching dusk and
the truck did not have any lights on."
Veering toward the cruiser,
the truck rammed its driver-side door and kept going, pushing
it into the ditch at an angle and disabling it. Backing several
feet into the ditch, Bigsky tried to turn the truck around, but
got stuck. Behind the wheel, he was rocking it back and forth,
trying to get it moving again.
The constable got out of his
vehicle and approached, drawing his gun and repeatedly telling
Bigsky through the open driver's-side window to stop the truck
and turn it off - but the man ignored him, the statement says.
"The constable fired one
round into the driver's door. Because the first round had no
effect on Bigsky's actions, he fired another round into the driver's
door with still no effect," it states.
"He then fired a third
round towards the head of Bigsky at which point it appeared that
Bigsky ducked down, out of sight and the engine of the truck
began revving even more."
A few seconds later, Rose Ann
got out of the truck yelling at the officer. He told her to stay
in the ditch and a few minutes later Saskatoon police arrived
on the scene, the document states.
Contrary to her claim, Rose
Ann was advised of her rights and allowed to call a lawyer, it
says. Police also discovered she was wanted on charges of driving
while disqualified and theft under $5,000. She was taken to the
RCMP detachment in the city, where she was booked into a cell.
A prisoner log shows she placed
a call at about 10:20 p.m.
Also contrary to her claim,
the defence says she was asked to change out of her bloody clothes
at about 11:30 p.m., but refused. Because they were needed for
evidence "she was eventually convinced to change her clothing
within two hours of being booked into cells," the statement
"The plaintiff was given
the opportunity to shower before she left the detachment the
next day. She also had access to a washroom if she wished to
clean up," it says.
The RCMP denies Rose Ann's
claim that officers refused to tell her if her husband was alive
or dead, saying she was told at the scene that he'd been killed.
Before she was released the
next day, a female officer interviewed her to make sure she had
family support, though she wanted to leave on her own, the document
"The RCMP was concerned
that she might harm herself. She was allowed to leave with family
members and she was offered, and refused, grief counselling."
Rose Ann's claim that the officer
could have avoided the shooting is unfounded, it adds.
"The risk posed to public
safety by Bigsky prevented the constable from a tactical repositioning
completely away from the situation. . . . He was justified in
using deadly force because he believed it was necessary for self-preservation
and the preservation of Indian and (Rose Ann)," it states.
Violent death recounted
RCMP pepper-spray, beat victim before shooting, friend says
By Dan Zakreski, Senior Reporter Saskatchewan News Network, Apr. 30, 2001
An eyewitness says Melvin Wayne Bigsky was pepper-sprayed,
clubbed and electrically shocked by RCMP before an officer shot
him in the back of the head, killing the 33-year-old Nipawin
farm worker while he sat in his half-ton truck.
Other members at the scene
Friday then handcuffed the body on the side of the highway east of Saskatoon.
Ivan Indian says an estimated
dozen or more RCMP and city police were on the scene at the time
of the shooting. RCMP Sgt. Cory Lerat, however, says the officer
who shot Bigsky was the only member on site and that backup did
not arrive until after the shooting. Lerat could not explain
the contradictory versions.
In an interview Sunday, Indian
said he was travelling to Saskatoon with Bigsky and his wife
Roseann, who had both moved to Nipawin less than a month ago
to work on a farm.
They were coming to Saskatoon
to visit Melvin's mother, Christina Bigsky. Indian said they
were just approaching Saskatoon on Highway 41 at dusk when they
were pulled over by the RCMP. Indian and Bigsky got out to ask
why they had been pulled over "and he told us to get back
in the truck."
When Melvin refused and asked
again why they had been pulled over "he got pepper-sprayed in the face."
"I was behind Mel when
it happened. The officer then said we were both under arrest and he put me in the car."
Bigsky, he said, was crawling
around on his hands and knees, rubbing at his eyes with a jacket.
"The officer went over
and whacked him with a club and then shocked him a couple of
times with a stun gun," Indian said.
"Roseann came out of the
truck and the officer shoved or hit her. Melvin said `Don't hit
my old lady,' and they tussled on the ground."
The RCMP member broke free
and ran back to his car. By that time, Indian said "there
were a whole bunch of RCMP there."
Melvin got back into the truck
and tried to escape by driving through the ditch. Instead, he
rammed the cruiser where Indian was in custody.
"Then he got out, on his
knees with his hands in the air . . . and he got whacked by the
officer again. And they started fighting."
Indian estimated at this point
there were at least a dozen officers on the scene, most with
guns drawn, in a loose circle.
"Melvin got up and went
back into the truck, saying he gave up. I heard four shots, and
one shot hit him in the back of the head. He fell out of the
truck, and they handcuffed him on the ground," Indian said.
Christina Bigsky said she learned
midday Saturday that her son had been killed. She viewed his
body Sunday at the St. Paul's Hospital morgue. He is married
with two daughters and one son.
"We'll bury him at Kinistin
reserve," she said.
She confirmed that Melvin had
recently served a six-year prison sentence for killing his cousin,
Clifford Moosewaypayo, in Saskatoon. She said that the men were
drinking and wrestling and she described the death as accidental.
"He was such a nice guy, always concerned about me,"
The shooting of two Native
men by the RCMP in less than a week raises the issue of police
training and the use of deadly force, says vice-chief Lawrence
Joseph of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN).
A Native man in Ile-a-la-Crosse
was shot and wounded Tuesday morning after a standoff with RCMP
at a house in the small northern community. His injuries were
not considered life threatening.
"There's a lot of questions
from everyone. For instance, from a First Nations perspective,
is there an official and separate response for First Nation offenders?"
"Is there a practised,
rehearsed response for that?"
RCMP spokesperson Heather Russell
said that officers are instructed to use deadly force as a last
resort. There is no separate policy for dealing with First Nations
offenders, she said.
Joseph said there must be more
work put into exploring and using alternatives to deadly force.
RCMP are not releasing any
more details of the Bigsky incident, other than to say it is
under investigation by the Saskatoon major crimes unit.
He had no right to shoot my husband'
Bigsky's wife says Melvin tried to give up; RCMP offer account
By Dan Zakreski, Senior Reporter Saskatchewan News Network
Roseann Bigsky says her husband
Melvin died in her arms, fatally shot in the back of the head,
moments after trying to surrender to an RCMP officer.
"He had no right to shoot
my husband. Melvin had his hands outside the window to give up,"
she said in an interview Monday.
"The cop started shooting
and then he fell on me. I asked him to wake up, don't leave me
and the children, but he wouldn't wake up."
Melvin Wayne Bigsky, 33, died
Friday night of a single gunshot wound after an altercation with
RCMP on Highway 41 east of Saskatoon. The RCMP officer had pulled
over the blue GMC Sierra after a report of a possible impaired
driver on the busy highway.
There were three people in
the truck - Roseann and Melvin Bigsky, and Ivan Indian, the driver
and owner of the truck.
They were travelling from Nipawin
to Saskatoon to visit Bigsky's mother.
Indian offered a detailed account
Sunday of what happened alongside the highway.
He said that the officer's
backup had arrived before the shooting - that Bigsky was surrounded
by a dozen police - and that the officer used pepper spray, his
baton and an electrical device to stun Melvin during the fight.
RCMP say that backup didn't
arrive until after the shooting and that members do not carry
stun guns. Cpl. Jerry Wilde did confirm Monday, however, that
the member had used pepper spray and his baton during the confrontation.
Roseann Bigsky confirmed other
officers did not arrive until immediately after her husband was
Commenting on Indian's version
of events, Wilde said "witnesses viewing an incident all
look at it, and people have different versions of what has happened,
Wilde gave a general account
of what happened. The incident is still under investigation.
The RCMP member located and stopped the half-ton at about 8:30
The officer immediately called
"During the investigation,
the officer was confronted by one of the male persons in the
vehicle. The suspected driver of the truck was determined, and
he was placed in the back seat of the police car," Wilde
This person was Ivan Indian.
"A second confrontation
occurred with the passenger, and the member was assaulted by
this person. The confrontation escalated, as did the member's
response as to dealing with the person. Pepper spray was first
utilized and then later, in the struggle, a baton was utilized."
This confrontation involved
The officer and Bigsky separated
and returned to their separate vehicles.
"The officer was inside
his police car when it was struck by the other vehicle. The police
car was disabled and the officer exited the vehicle and fired
shots at the truck. After the shooting, backup arrived a few
Saskatoon city police were
the first to arrive. Staff Sgt. Al Sather said that four cruisers
were eventually dispatched to the scene. Other RCMP arrived shortly
The first call for an ambulance
came in to MD Ambulance at 8:57, the two vehicles arriving at
the scene at 9:11 and then leaving at 9:30, said spokesperson
Wilde said the member called
for backup, more than once, because "he feared the situation
was not in control." There is an audio recording of his
exchanges with dispatch that will be part of the investigation.
Wilde confirmed the officer
was able to attach a handcuff to one of Bigsky's wrists during
the struggle. He also confirmed Bigsky was inside the truck,
and it was not moving, when he was fatally shot.
Roseann Bigsky said she felt
the incident didn't spin out of control until she exited the
truck and tried to speak with the RCMP officer, "because
I didn't think he'd feel threatened by me."
"He told me to get back
in the truck, and that's when Melvin freaked out."
After wrestling the officer
to the ground and still wearing the handcuffs on one wrist, he
returned to the truck and rammed the cruiser while trying to
The truck then became hung
up in the ditch, its tires spinning.
"The cop started toward
the truck with his gun out and Melvin was saying 'I surrender,
I give up' with his hands out the window," she said.
The officer then opened fire.
Bullet holes were visible in the driver's side door, by the handle,
and in the windowframe of the truck.
"He had no reason to fire
his gun. He's a murderer in my books. He took away a father,
husband and son without thinking," she said.
Melvin Bigsky will be buried Wednesday at the Kiniston reserve.