Wednesday, April 9, 1997
Peter Edwards, Staff Reporter
SARNIA -- Indian Activist Anthony (Dudley) George was shot dead while pointing a rifle towards police officers, says the officer who shot him.
Acting Sergeant Kenneth Deane of the Ontario Provincial Police, charge with criminal negligence causing death, was testifying yesterday at his trial.
It was Deane's first public comment since George was shot late on Sept. 6, 1995, at Ipperwash Provincial Park in a land claims dispute.
Deane said he instantly knew that he had seriously wounded George when he fired a blast of three shots from his sub-machine-gun.
Officers never thought to pick up George's rifle, even though several officers were within 20 metres of it and the only Indians in sight were dragging George away, Deane said.
"I didn't think it was prudent," Deane told Crown Attorney Ian Scott.
Asked if he was worried that another Indian might pick up the rifle and use it against police, Deane replied, "I didn't think about it , to tell the truth."
"It couldn't be because there was no rifle?," Scott asked.
"No, it was not," Deane replied.
In the instant after he was hit with the fatal gunshot, George managed to somehow throw his rifle across the roadway, Deane said.
Court has heard that a bullet from Deane's weapon fractured George's collarbone, broke a couple ribs and tore a lung, causing massive bleeding.
"He gets up, right away, he turns to his right slightly," Deane said. "He then stops, turns back to his left... and throws the rifle."
Deane rejected a suggestion by Scott that he confused shots from OPP snipers alongside the roadway with bullets from George.
"Its possible," Deane said. "Its highly improbable."
Deane said he honestly believes that Indians occupying the park had Russian assault rifles, hunting rifles with scopes and Molotov cocktails the night George was shot.
The officer said he got a credible intelligence report late that night that the Indians were heavily armed. Despite this, he saw no need to halt a march of 32 riot squad officers, who were going down a poorly lit roadway toward the park at 11 p.m.
"Its almost an act of suicide (for police), isn't it?," Scott said.
"I never thought about that theory at all," Deane replied.
Indians have told court that they were unarmed. No police officers or any police equipment was struck by bullets in the close quarters confrontation, court has heard.
Deane agreed with Scott that a volley of automatic fire could have easily killed 10 officers in the open roadway before police had any chance to react.
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