An RCMP officer laughed with a police dispatcher about a call reporting six gunshot sounds in a quiet Mission neighbourhood in 2008, a coroner’s inquest has heard.
Cpl. Mike White, then a constable with seven years of experience, and another officer drove around the neighbourhood but the inquest heard they did not get out of their vehicles to investigate or contact the neighbour who had made the call.
Lisa Dudley, 37, lay dying inside her home and was not found until four days later.
A coroner’s inquest heard an audio recording Monday of the conversation White had with the police dispatcher before he drove out to the neighbourhood. He laughs at hearing that a neighbour heard “six gunshots, and then a crash,” and the dispatcher replies, “Yeah, exactly.”
Monique Pongracic-Speier, a lawyer for Dudley’s family, asked whether a shots-fired call was funny to him.
“No, it’s not funny,” he told the inquest. “What it was is that I was skeptical.”
Dudley and her boyfriend, Guthrie McKay, were shot in an attack over a marijuana grow-op in their home. Guthrie died immediately but Dudley was paralyzed and lay in the home for four days until a neighbour checked in and called for help.
She died in the ambulance on the way to hospital.
Four people were eventually convicted of a variety of charges for the deaths, including first-degree murder, manslaughter or conspiracy to commit murder.
White told the five-member jury that he was skeptical about the initial call because it was an unusually high number of gunshots and it had only been reported by one neighbour.
Because the dispatcher told him the caller had heard a “crash,” White assumed there had been a car accident, which possibly could have been caused by shots fired at a vehicle, he testified.
When he couldn’t see any evidence of a car crash or shell casings on the road, he parked his car, filed his report and closed the case.
Pongracic-Speier said if the officer had contacted the neighbour who called police he would have learned that the man was standing outside with another neighbour and his son when they all heard what they believed were gunshots.
Erwin Adam, who made the call, choked back tears as he told the inquest how he felt when Dudley was found dying in her home days later.
The inquest heard an audio recording of Adam’s conversation with a police dispatcher in which he said he’d heard six gunshots and “someone yelling out.” He also told the dispatcher about a “crashing sound” his neighbour had heard.
He initially called a non-emergency number because he wasn’t sure if an animal or a human had been hurt, but he was transferred to a different police dispatcher. He believed someone was in pain and police should investigate, he recalled.
Neither call-taker seemed “terribly interested” in his report, Adam said.
He told the inquest that it was only after Dudley was found that he realized police had not adequately followed up on his call.
Mark Surakka, Dudley’s stepfather, said outside the inquest that he found White’s attitude during his testimony to be “almost cavalier.”
He said he doesn’t expect to get a sense of justice from the inquest but he is hoping to get answers.
Laura Kane, The Canadian Press