Some time ago, I wondered out loud how RCMP Constable Paul Koester had managed to shoot an allegedly enraged young man in the back of the head while that man, 22-year-old Ian Bush, was allegedly choking him to near-uncons- ciousness at the RCMP detachment in Houston, B.C. I opined that two scenarios were possible: either the officer had rubber arms, or a rubber gun that fired real bullets. And this was when reports were incomplete enough that I had imagined the two of them were face-to-face at the time.
During an as-yet-incomplete coroner's inquest, however, it turned out that Constable Koester was (allegedly, once again) face-down on a couch with Mr. Bush on top of him, choking him from behind.
Now, please try to visualize what followed, as Constable Koester on the advice of his lawyers forebore to show how the ensuing feat was supposedly accomplished, and the presiding coroner, Shane DeMeyer, refused to allow a re-enactment by volunteers. Maybe he was just concerned for their safety. The constable testified that he reached his gun, extracted it from its holster, then reached behind Mr. Bush and shot him in the back of the head. Please do not try this at home.
But this tale, a bit of a stretch (pun intended), may reach its elastic limit shortly. As reported in today's Globe and Mail by columnist Gary Mason, who has been closely following the story from the beginning, a world-renowned expert on crime scene reconstruction will take the stand later this week. A 20-year veteran of the Edmonton police service, Constable Joe Slemko is testifying on behalf of the Bush family, and doing so pro bono. In an email to the Bush family lawyer he said that the RCMP review of the case made him "physically ill." He has stated bluntly that the alleged shooting scenario is "physically impossible."
He has his work cut out for him. The coroner will not let him testify about the crime scene reconstruction that he carried out with his students, despite his world-class credentials, ruling that Constable Slemko is not an expert in "kinetics," or human body movement. As Mason rightly points out, this simply makes no sense. One hesitates to attribute motives, particularly in an on-going case, but this ruling, combined with the earlier one, is making it unnecessarily difficult for the truth of the matter to be uncovered.
One hopes that the coroner's jury in the safety of their deliberation room might attempt to perform a re-enactment on their own. If so, I hope they do so with all due caution--and a paramedic team standing by.
Meanwhile, the horsemen return to business as usual. h/t Shmohawk.
UPDATE (July 5):
Video of how the RCMP helps Native kids celebrate a soccer victory here, h/t Erik Abbink.