(supplied by: Taylor Chartrand)
The courtroom was filled with emotion as the Coroner’s inquest for Jacobus Jonker began Monday (Sept 9) at the Smithers courthouse.
The Coroner Susan Barth and the Jury will hear from 19 witnesses. On Monday (Sept 9) afternoon, they heard from Jonkers’ wife, Corleia Jonker, neighbor Steve Jennings and a recording of a statement done by Jonkers’ daughter Adele Jonker.
The jury is being asked to determine if Jonker’s death is natural, accidental, suicide, homicide or undetermined.
Barth told the courtroom that the inquest is not meant to assign blame or a fault.
Jonker explained to the 7 person jury her husband was very agitated the day the cops were called. She also explained how he was drinking and had an alcohol problem so when he would start drinking he couldn’t stop.
Jonker also said her daughter and herself left their house and hid behind two separate vehicles the went to their neighbors, the Jennings house.
She said her husband was walking towards the officers being aggressive then saw the police grab a weapon and tell him to get his hands out of his pocket. She later heard Jonker yell to the police “Shoot me, Shoot me”.
At some point, the police went up to Mrs. Jonker to ask if he suffered from Asthma because he was having breathing problems according to Mrs. Jonker.
After a short recess, a video was played of Mr. Jonkers’ daughter, Adele Jonkers’ statement. The video was recorded Feb 16,15, two days after the incident.
In the statement, she said her brother wouldn’t leave her mom’s side because he was scared of how aggressive her dad was being. According to Adele, he had a sharp knife in his hand and she was scared of what he was going to do. Jonker eventually grabbed a gun but she was not sure if it was loaded.
She was later told her dad was having breathing problems and the RCMP were calling an ambulance. She said in the video at that time she was not aware of her dad being pepper-sprayed.
The last to testify for the duration of day 1 was Jonker’s neighbor Stephen Jennings. Jennings said he took Adele Jonker’s phone and continued to speak with 911. Jennings also said he did not see the use of the pepper spray.
Jonker died Feb 20, 2015, in a Victoria hospital, one week after being pepper-sprayed by Smithers RCMP.
Three members of Smithers RCMP who were there that night are expected to testify Tuesday (Sept 10).
The inquest is suspected to go on until at least September 17.