[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 - An Indian teenager told youth court he drove a school bus toward an Ontario Provincial Police riot squad because he feared police were going to beat an Indian leader to death.
The youth, now 18, cannot be identified because of the Young Offenders Act.
He is charged with dangerous driving and assaulting police by driving the bus at them late at night on September 6, 1995 outside Ipperwash Provincial Park.
Indian activist Anthony (Dudley) George was shot dead by police that night, and Kettle Point Band councilor Bernard (Slippery) George was severely beaten.
Bernard George had stepped forward to lecture OPP riot squad officers around 11 p.m. that night, saying, "You'll never move the aboriginal peoples from these lands," when police rushed forward and knocked him to the ground, the youth testified.
"I could see eight or 10 people around Bernard, hitting him with their batons, kicking him," the teenager told youth court Judge Alexander Graham.
"I wanted to stop them... he was being dragged south by his hair."
"What did you think might happen to him?" asked defense lawyer Jeffry House. "What was your concern?"
"He probably would have died if it had gone on," the teen replied.
The youth said he jumped in the bus with his cousin and dog and drove out of the park toward the police, hoping to split their ranks and allow other Indians to retrieve Bernard George.
The youth said he never tried to hit any police officer with the bus, but came within 2.5 metres of some riot squad members, who refused to budge until the last instant.
When he got to the police arrest wagon, he testified, several officers pointed guns at him and he shifted into reverse and drove back to the park.
The youth was among about 35 Indians who occupied the park at the end of the tourist season, saying it contained a sacred burial ground.
In earlier testimony, none of eight police witnesses at the park that night recalled seeing an Indian being hit with steel batons or kicked by police.
Constable James Stirling of the riot squad said he remembered an Indian approaching police and saying something like, "Kill us here. You killed our grandfathers. You fight with guns; we fight with courage."
And no police witnesses could recall seeing any guns or gun flashes or hearing any shots from the bus.
Immediately after the shooting, OPP Commissioner Thomas O'Grady issued a news release saying police opened fire after shots were fired from the bus and that a rifle was seen on it.
Police officers began fleeing the bus when it was about 20 feet away, Stirling testified.
It backed up along the roadway, and then its gears began to grind as if it was going to advance again, Constable Brian Sharp testified.
Sharp said he fired three times at the driver area to keep the bus from advancing.
The youth driving the bus testified he was hit in the back with flying glass from a window.
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