Family lawyer of Ian Bush believes he was targeted by RCMP

Canadian Press

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HOUSTON, B.C. — The lawyer for the family of a man fatally shot by police said Thursday it appears RCMP were targeting Ian Bush when he was arrested with an open beer.

Howard Rubin said Mr. Bush was among a crowd of people outside the hockey arena in this northwestern B.C. community yet he was the only one to get a ticket.

“There's no other tickets,” Mr. Rubin said outside a coroner's inquest into Mr. Bush's death.

“There's beer that's seized. They just go for Ian. He's a person that's at the back of the crowd when that happens. They acknowledge that he was just holding someone's beer at one point.”

Constable Paul Koester said he was fighting for his life when he shot Mr. Bush, 22, in a struggle at the RCMP detachment Oct. 29, 2005.

The New Westminster, B.C., police investigated the shooting and concluded Constable Koester shouldn't be charged.

The public outcry that followed prompted B.C. Attorney General Wally Oppal to make some details of the shooting public.

Mr. Oppal said Constable Koester was acting in self-defence.

The inquest heard Wednesday that Constable Koester asked his safety officer whether he should go ahead with a charge of obstruction against Mr. Bush for twice giving him a false name.

The officer said Mr. Bush had previous encounters with police, including an incident where he fled police and dumped his vehicle and was believed to have been intoxicated.

“That's not the way you do things,” Mr. Rubin said. “You don't take a person to the detachment and teach him a lesson just because he may have been a person in a previous investigation. I mean they didn't charge him.

“But I think that was part of the reason that they were targeting him.”

Mr. Rubin said Constable Koester had given Mr. Bush a ticket before “so where he said he didn't know him it might not be true that he doesn't know him.”

Mr. Bush did not have a criminal record.

Pathologist Dr. John Stefanelli told the inquest Mr. Bush probably died instantly when he was shot.

Dr. Stefanelli said the post mortem showed a gun had been partially pressed to Mr. Bush's head.

The bullet tumbled through his brain, lodging inside above Mr. Bush's eyebrows.

He said he couldn't determine whether bruising around Mr. Bush's eyes was as a result of the bullet wound or of the fracturing of his skull by the bullet or whether he had been struck in the face.

There were also three circular lacerations near the entrance wound, consistent with evidence from Constable Koester that he struck Mr. Bush, 22, with the pistol before pulling the trigger.

Dr. Stefanelli said Mr. Bush's body was never refrigerated before he did the autopsy and had started to decompose, which he called “problematic.”

He said the decomposition did not affect his determination of the cause of death but “it could have masked some bruising” that he said may be clouded by decomposition.

Mr. Rubin, under cross-examination, pointed to Dr. Stefanelli's failure to completely examine a bruise found on Mr. Bush's left inner thigh.

Constable Koester testified Wednesday that putting a knee in a suspect's groin was a submission technique that RCMP officers are trained to use.

Constable Koester said he did not remember using such a technique or kneeing Mr. Bush in the groin.