RCMP officers testify at Jonker inquest
(supplied by: Taylor Chartrand)
Yesterday was day 2 of the coroner’s inquest into the death of a Smithers man in 2015.
Jacobus Jonker died in a Victoria hospital a week after being pepper-sprayed by RCMP during an altercation.
The first witness to be called to the stand was Jonker’s doctor, Dr.Strauss. According to Dr.Straus Jonker had a breathing condition where he needed to use an inhaler. Jonker also suffered from sleep apnea, a condition where breathing stops while sleeping, and he needed to use a sleep machine.
The next witness that was called to the stand was Const. Jennifer McCreesh. She said she was close to the pepper spray when her partner sprayed Mr.Jonker.
After Jonker was sprayed he ran 3 or 4 steps then hunched over because he was having problems breathing according to Const. McCreesh. After he sat down in the car he had his hands over his face, coughing heavily while shaking his head she said. She also mentioned how she was afraid because he was charging at her partner and herself.
According to Const. McCreesh this was an emotionally charged case.
After a recess, the next witness was called to the stand. Constable Mark Bezzina, who is with traffic services for Smithers RCMP. He said he was not at the scene very long but he saw the altercation when the pepper spray was used. He said he was there when the ambulance was called to the detachment for Mr. Jonker. According to Const. Bezzina he was uninformed on some thing’s throughout the case and has continued to be uninformed.
The inquest is expected to go until at least Sept. 19. The seven-member jury is to determine if Mr.Jonker’s death is natural, accidental, homicide, suicide or undetermined.