[SISIS note: The following mainstream news article is provided for reference only. It may contain biased and distorted information and may be missing pertinent facts and/or context.]
SARNIA - Indian activist Anthony (Dudley) George appeared to be holding a stick, not a gun, the instant after he was fatally wounded by a police bullet, an officer has told court.
"I saw this person holding an object, which I believed to be a pole or a stick," Sergeant George Hebblethwaite of the Ontario Provincial Police testified yesterday at the trial of OPP Acting Sergeant Kenneth Deane.
Deane is charged with criminal negligence causing death in the Sept. 6, 1995, shooting outside Ipperwash Provincial Park, which was occupied that fall by Stoney Point Indians in a land claims dispute.
Deane testified Tuesday that he shot George dead because he saw him scanning a group of police officers with a rifle.
"Did you in any way perceive it (the object) to be a threat?" Crown Attorney Ian Scott asked Hebblethwaite.
"No, I did not," the sergeant replied.
"Did you ever see a firearm in the hands of the natives that evening?," Scott asked.
"Personally, no," Hebblethwaite said.
However, Constable Chris Cossitt told court he saw four inches of a gun barrel stick out of a window of a car being driven out of the area occupied by the Indians.
A blast from that gun missed him by only a foot, Cossitt said.
However, the constable said that when the driver of that car was arrested, he didn't try to have him charged with a gun offence.
"Did you make any attempt to have him charged with attempted murder?" Scott asked.
"No sir," Cossitt replied.
Cossitt also testified that he had a Molotov cocktail thrown at him.
But the constable agreed with Scott that he didn't mention this in his notes, or in interviews with OPP and special investigations unit investigators, or in testimony in a previous court case on Ipperwash.
"I'm going to suggest to you that there's no mention...because you never saw anything like a Molotov cocktail be thrown at you," Scott said.
"I did, sir," Cossitt replied.
Hebblethwaite, Cossitt and Constable Kevin York, all of the OPP riot squad at Ipperwash that night, each testified that they were not told of an intelligence report that park occupiers had stockpiled AK-47 assault rifles, hunting rifles with scopes and Molotov cocktails.
"It's information I was not aware of," Hebblethwaite said.
"Is it information you would have liked to have known?'' Scott asked.
York agreed with a suggestion by Scott that the riot squad would have been "sitting ducks" and victims of "virtual carnage" if they'd come under fire from AK-47s as they were marching down a roadway toward the park.
The purpose of the late-night operation was to secure a public roadway outside the park, Hebblethwaite testified.
Asked how the roadway was to be kept secure that night after the police had left the site, Hebblethwaite replied, "We were not apprised."
"Is there any reason why this was done at 11 o'clock (at night)?," Scott asked.
"It was deemed to be a necessary action at the time based on events of the day as they unfolded," Hebblethwaite replied.
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