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Dudley George

'Nobody showed up' for George

Dudley George

FOREST, ON - Native activist Anthony (Dudley) George lay dying late at night in a car with a flat tire outside a farmhouse, as desperate relatives waited for an ambulance that never arrived, a public inquiry heard.

"Nobody showed up," farmer Hendrikus (Hank) Venns told the public inquiry into George's death yesterday, describing what happened after he called 911 at 11:26 p.m. on Sept. 6, 1995.

"Nobody."

George's sister Carolyn (Cully) and brother Pierre pounded on Venns' farmhouse door on Nauvoo Rd., about 15 minutes after George was shot by an Ontario Provincial Police sniper at Ipperwash Provincial Park during a burial ground protest.

"I requested an ambulance as soon as possible," Venns, 50, testified at the public inquiry into George's death before Mr. Justice Sidney Linden.

"They didn't sound too excited," he said. "Twenty-five minutes after the George family members arrived at his door, the ambulance still hadn't arrived and the car carrying George was gone, Venns testified.

A transcript involving conversations between ambulance workers and police indicated that ambulances were sent to the farmhouse, but apparently turned back after George left the farmhouse in the car driven by his brother.

In the transcript, an OPP officer said, "Okay, so you've got ambulances going or ambulance going?"

"We've got one on the way, yeah, and two more coming in from London area," another man replies.

At the inquiry yesterday, Venns said that an operator asked him if the wounded man or anyone with him had a gun. "I thought it was strange to ask that question," Venns testified. "I said they didn't have guns."

Venns said he expected an ambulance to arrive in 10 minutes or so, like when he called for help for a farmhand with a broken arm.

In earlier testimony, Carolyn George praised Venns for trying to help.

The inquiry continues.


No one came to help dying George

FOREST, ON - For nearly 25 frantic minutes, a Lambton County farmer tried in vain to summon an ambulance for native protester Dudley George, who lay dying in his yard, an inquiry heard yesterday. Hank Veens said he expected an ambulance would arrive within 10 minutes of his 911 call, but neither ambulance nor police came that night, despite repeated assurances that they were on their way.

"Nobody showed up, nobody," Veens said.

"I think it is a serious thing. If someone shows up on your doorstep shot, it should be followed up."

When a farm hand had a broken arm on an earlier occasion, the ambulance arrived about 10 minutes after a 911 call, he said.

Veens placed the 911 call after George's siblings, Carolyn and Pierre George, banged on his door and asked for help. The car they were driving had a flat tire. It was about 15 minutes after Dudley had been shot by police.

The tape of Veens's 911 call was played yesterday at the judicial inquiry into George's shooting.

Veens said Carolyn George kept asking him if an ambulance was on the way.

But in the 25 minutes he was on the phone, he got the feeling help wasn't going to be sent, Veens said.

"My impression of things is they were just going through the motions," he said. "They didn't sound too excited."

Looking back, he said, "I wish I had just threw them in the van and went."

While Veens was still on the phone with 911, Pierre and Carolyn drove off to take Dudley to hospital in Strathroy.

At police request, the 911 operator called back to ask if Pierre and Carolyn were armed.

"They had no firearms," Veens told the operator.

It was a few days before police visited his farm to fill out a report, Veens said.

Veens said he asked the officer why an ambulance hadn't come. The reply was: "Oh, must have been busy," he said.

The issue of ambulance response to calls from natives that night has been raised several times at the inquiry.

Other native witnesses have said police told them at the time the ambulances were for police officers, not natives.

TRANSCRIPT OF HANK VEENS'S 911 CALL

In the transcript released yesterday, an ambulance was dispatched to Veens's farm near Arkona after some initial confusion over where the call originated. The 911 operator then tells police of the call:

OPP: The guy has a gunshot wound to the chest?

911 Operator: That's right.

OPP: OK, so you've got ambulances going or ambulance going?

911 Operator: We've got one on the way, yah, and two more coming in from London area.

OPP: OK.

911 Operator: All right, bye.

OPP: All right, this must be where the other guy disappeared to.

Later, Veens tells the operator that Pierre, Carolyn and a dying Dudley George have left for the hospital. The ambulance bound for the farm is told to keep going, but a few minutes later, the call is cancelled.


George told of death threats: Sister thought police 'joking'

She was detained in hospital

FOREST, ON - A sister of slain native activist Anthony (Dudley) George wiped away tears when she told of a chilling conversation she had with him, a day before he was shot dead by an Ontario Provincial Police officer during a land claims dispute.

"He came and he told me the police said they were going to get him first," Carolyn (Cully) George, 54, told the public inquiry before Mr. Justice Sidney Linden of the conversation with her brother on Sept. 5, 1995.

She paused to gain her composure, and then continued: "The words that came out of my mouth was, 'It's a good day to die.'"

She said neither of them wanted to believe the threat.

"Were you concerned about his safety?" inquiry lawyer Susan Vella asked.

"I didn't really think they'd do that," Carolyn George replied.

"I think he was hoping that they were just joking around. I didn't really take it serious."

She also described a horrific drive to Strathroy General hospital, with her brother Pierre, as well as a teenaged boy, and her dying brother Dudley.

Their car had a flat tire and they stopped at a farmhouse to beg people there to call for help.

The man who answered the farmhouse door was quick to oblige and call for an ambulance, but after five minutes of waiting for an emergency vehicle, they decided to drive on, with the flat tire, she said.

No police or ambulance came to help them on their 45-minute drive to hospital, she said, and she was thrown to the pavement and handcuffed when they arrived at hospital.

"They (police) grabbed my arms and put them behind my back," she testified.

"Put me down on the ground. My face went through some shrubs ... I was trying to ask them to let me see my brother."

She said she was locked up alone, and told she was being charged with attempted murder, although she was released the next day without charges.

While in jail, she said she worried she would never get out alive, and then she saw a cedar leaf on the cell floor, and felt it was a sign from God, as cedar is a sacred native medicine.

"I had the protection of the Creator," she testified. "The Creator gave me that sign."

The shooting came after Stoney Point natives occupied the park adjoining the military base on Lake Huron on Sept. 4, 1995, saying they were protecting sacred burial grounds.

Seven police officers opened fire during the late-night confrontation in which Dudley George was killed.

A judge ruled in April 1997 that Dudley George was unarmed. Acting Sergeant Kenneth Deane of the OPP was found guilty of criminal negligence causing death for the shooting.


George 'just smiled'
Victim of sniper calm after shooting

FOREST, ON - Dudley George just smiled as friends and family rushed him to a hospital after he was shot by a police sniper, a then 14-year-old boy told the Ipperwash inquiry yesterday. James Thomas Cousins testified George never talked during the frantic trip, just smiled and responded to his calls to keep squeezing his hand.

In the Strathroy hospital parking lot George's breathing was starting to slow and his eyes were closing.

But help for George didn't come immediately because Ontario Provincial Police officers arrested Cousins and two other people in the car, and hospital staff were held behind a locked door, the inquiry heard.

Cousins was never charged with any offence.

Yesterday was the first time Cousins has talked openly about George's death on Sept. 6, 1995, following the takeover of Ipperwash Provincial Park by natives who claimed the park contained an aboriginal burial ground.

Cousins admitted he was traumatized by the events but maintained his memory was clear.

He vividly recalled the blood on George's chest right below his heart, saying his arm became covered in blood when he placed it on George's back.

The inquiry continues today.


George family wants Ipperwash inquiry moved

FOREST, ON - A lawyer representing the family of Dudley George, who was shot to death during a 1995 confrontation with police over native land claims, wants public inquiry hearings to move to Toronto.

Murray Klippenstein said the native protester's family is not happy at the lack of media coverage the inquiry is getting at its current location in the town of Forest, Ont., near the scene of George's death at Ipperwash Provincial Park.

"It's being held near Ipperwash Park, which is important, but it should also be held near Queen's Park, which is the other park that has a critical role, in their view, in this matter," Klippenstein said.

The George family has always maintained that provincial government officials or politicians authorized police to use force as they moved in on unarmed protesters blockading Ipperwash Provincial Park in early September 1995.

The inquiry's public hearings are set to resume next week in Forest, about 250 kilometres west of Toronto.

Klippenstein said moving the inquiry to Toronto would make it easier for major media outlets headquartered there to cover testimony.

It was important for people living near Ipperwash to have a chance to attend the hearings, Klippenstein said, but the family believes they've now had that opportunity.

Derry Millar, the lead counsel for the inquiry, said a change of venue is not impossible.

"Anyone can bring a motion before the commissioner to ask that he move the hearings to some other place, including Toronto, and then the commissioner would have to make a decision," he said.

Until that happens, Millar said, the inquiry will continue to operate in Forest.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced the inquiry on Nov. 12, 2003, just days after taking office.

Public hearings began in July 2004 and are scheduled to run until next fall.

Copyright ©2005 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation - All Rights Reserved


Ipperwash beating haunts Stony Point native
Badly injured on night of fatal shooting

Tried to speak to OPP riot officers

FOREST, ON - A former band councillor broke down in tears as he told how he was haunted by the night he was clubbed unconscious by OPP officers and Anthony (Dudley) George was shot to death by a police sniper.

"We lost a brother, we lost a friend, and I was involved in it," Cecil Bernard (Slippery) George, 50, of the Kettle and Stony Point band, told Justice Sidney Linden yesterday at the public inquiry into George's Sept. 6, 1995 death.

Commission lawyer Derry Millar asked George, who was not related to Dudley, three times if he wanted to take a break to regain his composure. Each time he declined and pressed on with his emotional testimony.

"Sam wanted to know what happened and I have to tell him the truth," he said, looking at Dudley George's older brother Sam, who sat about six metres away in the inquiry hall.

George said he feared something awful would happen after Stoney Point natives occupied Ipperwash Provincial Park on Lake Huron near Sarnia at the end of the 1995 tourist season, saying they were protecting a sacred burial ground.

He testified Ontario Provincial Police soon set up roadblocks and he noticed some officers with assault rifles.

"The Indians had sticks and stones and they had guns," George testified.

He said he tried to speak with riot officers as they marched on the park late that night, but they wouldn't listen to him and sped up instead.

"I said if they would continue to do this, then they would have no respect and no honour. I told them not to do this ... I wanted to run. I had nowhere to go."

Shortly afterward, he swung a steel pipe at the riot squad officers, who were lined up in two rows in a parking lot outside the park.

He tried to protect his face as he was repeatedly struck on his back in the sand, surrounded by police, he said.

"I told them, 'I give up.' But they were afraid of me. They were afraid of the Indian because they don't understand him ... I could see strange stars. They were colourful stars."

He said he lost consciousness. When he regained it, he was being dragged by his hair to a vehicle.

The inquiry was shown photos taken by the police watchdog unit, the Special Investigations Unit, the day after the beating. George suffered 28 blunt force trauma wounds to his face, chest and groin and his heart stopped temporarily after the beating.

"The biggest injury that I had was inside me - deep inside me," he testified.

"I hurt all over but not as much as I hurt from the biggest injury: emotional."

George was originally charged with assault with a weapon, assaulting a police officer and mischief but was acquitted on all charges.

He said that while in custody, he told police he was sorry if anyone was hurt that night.

"And why did you say that to police?" Millar asked.

"To let them know that we're not really the type of people that some picture us to be," he replied.

"Did anyone, at any time, ever apologize to you for the injuries that you suffered?" the inquiry lawyer continued.

"No," George replied.

The inquiry continues.


'I knew they were coming'
Cecil Bernard George expected to die at the Ipperwash occupation

FOREST, ON - Native witness Cecil Bernard George broke down in tears yesterday as he described futile attempts to convince riot police to put away their weapons and stop their march on occupiers of Ipperwash Provincial Park. "I told them, if you want a fight, deal with me, leave these people alone" George, 50, said.

The judicial inquiry into the killing of native protester Dudley George was shown graphic photographs of injuries the former Kettle Point band councillor suffered when he was beaten by the provincial police riot squad.

His injuries, outlined by lead commission counsel Derry Millar, included cuts and bruises on his head, chest, back, arms and legs. He still has scars on his face.

George, commonly known by his nickname, Slippery, wasn't part of the 1995 occupation of the provincial park.

On the night of the confrontation between police and natives that ended with the shooting of protester Dudley George, Cecil George said he went to the park because he was concerned about the safety of his sister and brother, who were part of the group occupying the park.

George testified he handed out two-way radios to the park occupiers and then headed down the road in the night toward an area where he had seen a police buildup.

Part way there, he heard footsteps on the road and shortly could see by the moonlight officers with shields approaching in formation.

George testified he decided he had to try to talk to them. "The first thing I told them was to put their guns away."

Instead of replying, the police started moving faster.

Retreating into the park, George said he watched as riot police rushed to the fence and tried to hit the natives on the other side with batons.

Sobbing occasionally, George said he struggled for years to understand what he did next. "At that point I had nothing left inside of me but anger for what they did," he said. "No one would come out to talk to us."

The band councillor said he then picked up a metal pipe and approached the double line of riot police. He heard someone give the command to the riot police: "Punch-out."

"I knew they were coming to punch me and everyone else that were in the way. They had no feelings. They were afraid of the Indians. The Indians had sticks and stones and they had guns."

George said he swung his metal pipe at one officer and heard a sound like glass breaking. Then it was like he was in a nightmare, he said.

"I seen shadows around me, hitting at me, trying to kill me. That was my dream that they were going to kill me," he said.

George said he later learned he was taken to Strathroy General Hospital, where he was treated two days before being taken to jail in Sarnia.

He was initially told he was being charged with attempted murder. Later he was charged with assault with a weapon, assaulting a police officer and mischief. All the charges were later dismissed.

Cross examination of George is scheduled to continue this morning.


Inquiry won't see L.A. video
The George family's lawyer drops a bid to show the Rodney King beating

FOREST, ON - Lawyers for the family of Dudley George have abandoned their controversial attempt to play a video at the Ipperwash inquiry of the brutal beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers in 1991 Lawyer Andrew Orkin said it had become apparent on Friday and over the weekend that the move was going to be met with fierce opposition from a number of parties.

"We simply decided to sidestep the fight," Orkin said yesterday.

The George family lawyers had said they wanted to play the video to show the nature and severity of the Ontario Provincial Police beating of Cecil Bernard George, a Kettle and Stoney Point band councillor.

Orkin said the legal team still felt it would have been valuable for the inquiry to see the Rodney King video, but it wasn't worth the time it would have taken in arguments at the inquiry.

One of the groups expected to vigorously object to the video was the Ontario Provincial Police Association.

Its lawyer, Ian Roland, last week suggested playing the video at the inquiry would be an extreme example of "inappropriate stereotyping."

Roland said allowing the video to be played would throw the inquiry wide open to all kinds of evidence being introduced that had no connection to the 1995 events at Ipperwash Provincial Park.

Earlier witnesses at the judicial inquiry have testified that the beating of Cecil Bernard George, 50, triggered a wild fight between police and natives that ended with the shooting of Dudley George by a police officer.

The police beating, according to testimony at subsequent criminal trials, almost killed Cecil George, who is also known as Slippery.

Yesterday, Cecil George, no relation to Dudley, testified how he had defused an earlier standoff between OPP and a native on the Kettle Point reserve.

George said relatives of the man called him because they were afraid he would be shot by police.

Driving on his snowmobile past police roadblocks where officers pointed their guns at him and tried to get him to stop, George recounted how he entered the house and spoke to the man.

"He told me they were not going to take him alive. I told him that wasn't the way to think," he said.

He eventually convinced the man to surrender to aboriginal police officers, he said.

The former band councillor was questioned about his own criminal record that included jail sentences and fines for robbery, assault, escaping custody, drug possession and impaired driving.

The offences stopped in 1980.

"I thought about what I did in the past and thought it was time to make a turn," said George, who works as a carpenter.

Elected a band councillor in 1992, George said he dealt with OPP officers because of his responsibilities as a councillor, but still didn't feel he could trust them because of how he was treated during his earlier arrests.

The treatment included being dragged around by his hair, he said.

George, who wasn't part of the group that occupied the Ipperwash army camp in 1993 and the neighbouring park in 1995, testified he owned a number of firearms, including an AK 47 semi-automatic rifle and a couple of assault rifles.

He said the AK 47 was purchased from a store in London with his firearms acquisition certificate.

He said he was never asked to bring firearms to the provincial park and he never saw any natives with firearms when he stopped by to see his sister and brother, who were among the occupiers.

George is expected to continue his testimony today.


Lawyers seek viewing of King beating

FOREST, ON - A videotape of the brutal 1991 beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police will be played at the Ipperwash inquiry next week if lawyers for members of Dudley George's family succeed in convincing Justice Sidney Linden it is relevant. The surprise move by the family's legal team was announced in advance of the testimony of Cecil Bernard George.

The Kettle and Stoney Point band councillor was beaten by OPP riot squad officers during the 1995 skirmish between police and natives at Ipperwash Provincial Park.

The lawyers said they will attempt to introduce the video in order to establish the nature, severity and duration of the OPP beating of Cecil Bernard George.

Native witnesses at the inquiry have testified the band councillor approached the riot squad officers and attempted to tell them the protesters were unarmed.

He was subsequently knocked to the ground, beaten and then dragged by his hair down the road to a patrol wagon, witnesses said.

It was during attempts by the natives to rescue him from the police that Dudley George was shot and killed by an OPP officer, the inquiry has heard.

The inquiry is examining the events surrounding the death of Dudley George.

Sam George, a brother of Dudley George, said it is clear Cecil Bernard George was trying to prevent violence.

"Unfortunately, he did not succeed and instead himself became one of the victims of the police use of extreme force that night," he said.

"The situation then escalated and resulted in the OPP sniper shooting my brother Dudley."

Ian Roland, lawyer for the Ontario Provincial Police Association, said it would be "extraordinary" if the videotape was allowed.

"It would make this process completely wide open to all kinds of evidence that really has no connection to Ipperwash," he said.

Roland added he found the move interesting in light of the accusations made at the inquiry of stereotyping.

"This seems to be potentially an extreme example of inappropriate stereotyping," he said.

Roland also attacked George family lawyer Murray Klippenstein for issuing a news release about his intention to introduce the videotape before he had applied to the inquiry.

"It seems to me that it shows a fair degree of disrespect to the commissioner and the process."

Jennifer McAleer, a lawyer for former premier Mike Harris, said she was not taking a position on the videotape.

"We will leave that up to the commissioner," she said.

In testimony yesterday, native witness Kevin Simon said he was present the night before Dudley George was shot when an OPP officer called George by name and said he would be the first to get it.


Protester says confrontation ruined his life

FOREST, ON - A 28-year-old native who participated in the standoff at Ipperwash Provincial Park in 1995 says the events of that night ruined his life and he still fears police. Gabriel Doxtator, who lives on the Oneida First Nation reserve, said he stayed at the former Ipperwash army camp for six months after the confrontation with police because he was afraid to leave.

"I was afraid that if I left, the cops were going to shoot me next," he told the Ipperwash inquiry yesterday.

"I always gotta be watching my back now," Doxtator said. "I don't know when (the police) are going to come up behind me and put a bullet in me next."

Doxtator, who was testifying at the inquiry examining the circumstances that led to the 1995 shooting death of native protester Dudley George, participated in the occupation of Ipperwash Provincial Park as a supporter.

He told the inquiry he saw George retreat back into the park when he was shot and killed by a provincial police officer.

"I saw Dudley run back into the park and he said, 'I think I'm hit,' " he said.

Doxtator, who was also running into the park when the shots were fired, said when he turned around he saw George holding his chest.

"He was on his feet at that point, then he dropped to his knees."


Police seen in park during standoff

FOREST, ON - Police were "sneaking" through the bushes in Ipperwash Provincial Park before and after native protester Dudley George was shot and killed, the inquiry into his death heard yesterday. A member of the Oneida First Nation testified he saw police inside the park on Lake Huron on the night of Sept. 6, 1995.

Isaac (Buck) Doxtator, who was at the park as one of several representatives from Oneida to lend support, said he was keeping watch around the park's perimeter to warn if police were approaching.

He said he noticed seven armed officers lying prone in the bush near the beach.

When they were spotted, Doxtator said "they just crawled back and went behind the cottages."

After the shooting, he said he again spotted several armed officers running toward the lake inside the park fence.

"I thought they were our guys who were there to help us," he said. "But I looked again and they had guns and were running towards the lake."

Doxtator is a member of the Oneida Warrior Society, whose purpose is to "keep the peace on our territories" and lend support to outside First Nations.

Doxtator said he was at the Ipperwash army camp and later in the park during its occupation with the blessing of the Oneida traditional council.

He was asked by commission counsel Susan Vella about his history of attending native protests in Canada and the United States.

Doxtator said among the protests he had attended to lend support was the notorious confrontation in Oka, Que., where a police officer was killed.

He denied any use of firearms at those protests in his capacity as a "peacekeeper" and denied suggestions that he facilitated bringing weapons into Ipperwash.

Doxtator also told the inquiry about his involvement in the physical confrontation with police on the night of Sept. 6.

During the scuffle, Doxtator said, he struck an officer over the head with a baseball bat because the officer had struck his left leg with a baton.


Native leader testifies he feared he'd be killed

FOREST, ON - A Stoney Point leader testified yesterday he sent his sister and wife to police lines to get an ambulance for their son who was wounded in a clash with police at Ipperwash Provincial Park instead of going himself because he was afraid of being killed. "I didn't want to get murdered," Roderick Abraham George told a judicial inquiry into the fatal shooting of native protester Dudley George at the park in September 1995.

Roderick George, commonly known as Judas, described how he watched from behind a building as his wife drove their son, who had a finger-sized wound in his chest, to a police roadblock on Highway 21.

When his wife and sister got out of the vehicle, police approached and yelled: "Get on the ground, you bitches," George said.

The two women refused, George said, and he started yelling at the officers. Then other police jumped up out of a ditch and pointed their rifles at him.

George said he retreated, but he could see the ambulance arrive and pick up his son, Nicholas Cottrelle.

The attempts to get medical help for their son followed a violent skirmish between Ontario Provincial Police and native occupiers of Ipperwash Provincial Park.

Holding an eagle feather as he testified, Roderick George said he was one of the natives who fought with OPP riot squad officers in a parking lot at the provincial park, hitting police with part of a wooden crutch.

At one point in the melee, he heard someone call for "the bus," an old school bus the natives used on the adjacent army camp that they had been occupying since 1993.

"We didn't have no weapons or anything. The bus was intended to divide them up," he said.

When the bus started moving toward the police, George said he didn't know it was his 16-year-old son Nicholas behind the wheel.

George said it was after the bus came out that he saw a muzzle flash.

At first he thought it must be a warning shot, then realized it wasn't.

Roderick George estimated at least 100 shots were fired.

He said Dudley George was standing in front of him and spun around, saying,"Robert, Robert, I think I was hit."

Dudley fell down against him and others carried him to a car in the park. By this point, Roderick George said he knew his son was driving the bus and he concentrated on getting it back in the park.

When Nicholas got out of the bus, George said he noticed a blood spot on his upper right back area. There was a hole there big enough to put a finger in, he said.

When his son pulled his shirt down there was another wound with white liquid coming out, he said.

After the ambulance took his son away, George said he gave the order to burn down the park store and gatehouse and then pull out of the park.

"I said, 'Get everybody down there and burn those two buildings down, I don't want anyone else to get hurt."

Asked why he gave the order, George said it was "retaliation."

None of the natives in the park that night had firearms, he testified, but there had been an offer from an outside supporter to supply them.