I am sorry, I must speak on this.
I witnessed a homicide. A police shooting.
I am a bad witness. Immediately after the incident, I made no attempt to investigate. In my shock, I showed few signs of curiosity. The things I thought I observed with my senses could not have taken place as I described them.
My statement is recorded by the Winnipeg Police Department.
I told them:
I woke up to the sound of someone breaking glass outside [8:45 a.m.], sounding as if they were trying to do it quietly. I presumed a scavenger was working the dumpster. I used the toilet and went back to bed.
Some 15 minutes later, I have no idea when exactly [9-9:30?] I awoke to a loud noise of yelling coming from outside. It startled my cat. I sat up in bed and looked out the window. I saw a black or dark blue vehicle backing up out of the driveway of the house next door on Langside St. [yes, indeed, the very same 'crack house' of my prior rantings and ravings].
I saw an officer run from between the rooming house and the one next door in pursuit of the vehicle. I heard the officer yell commands 'stop the vehicle', 'show me your hands' [I cannot recall exactly the text of the speech.]
The vehicle, which I thought was a van, finished backing up and began accelerating down the back lane. It was not going fast at the time the officer appeared to catch up with it, reaching for the door handle [you know how people run, they don't run to where the car is, but to where it is going to be.] He didn't grab it. The officer seemed off balance as he shot his gun 4 times. "1-2-3-4" as even sixteenth notes, roughly 60 bpm. I have no idea in which hand the officer held his gun, his appearance, age, shape, anything, recognizing only the red stripe of his uniform pants in the context of this activity.
The car disappeared from my sight. The officer used a handheld device and said "shots fired". The officer then followed after the vehicle.
It didn't appear to me that from the angle the officer was shooting [at the driver's side, then from behind] that he could have actually hit the car as it accelerated away. I didn't see what happened down the lane out my back window. I didn't even look.
Apparently there was a loud crash, but I did not hear it. Instead I heard more yelling, the same 'get out of the car' 'show me your hands' as before, and sirens.
I was probed about whether the car window was open or closed and concluded it was closed because the officer would have been reaching for the window and not the door handle. They asked me from which direction the officer was shooting and I said it appeared as though from the side and behind.
The whole event took less than 20 seconds. This is what I said in my statement, but upon reflection it took place in much less time than that, likely 5-7 seconds.
I will not dwell on the fact that it was I who was then treated as a criminal. Within 20 minutes the police were at the door, and I was informed I must go to the station and make a report. I was driven there, locked in a room for about three hours, interviewed, and my camera was confiscated [the camera contained nothing other than a view of the empty back yard from my bedroom window following the incident - which the officers assured me would be returned later that night, but still has not been. (Come on guys, you promised. I really need it back)3].
Had I checked, I'm sure I would have seen the vehicle was a car & not a 'van', and especially not the van that usually parks there. I'm sure I would not have been permitted to see what I saw later on television: an image that shows bullet holes in the windshield of the car. This makes the angle of shooting as I describe it quite implausible.
Also, it turns out the vehicle was, in fact, a Mercedes! I am not surprised to have missed this, I really don't know cars, but to mistake it for a van? It is likely I noticed the colour of the vehicle was the same as the colour of the van that used to park there, in which case, I made the perceptual error.
I now believe I was intentionally removed from the scene so that I could not piece together anything further about the incident. The police must act quickly to engage in the process of protecting their fellow officer whether he needs protection or not.While I cannot be certain, I think that he does. There does not seem to me to be any good reason for shooting at a vehicle as it drives away. The officer was not going to be struck by the car [though the driver was certainly about to get away]. I remember thinking immediately after witnessing this 'I didn't think they were allowed to do that.' I told this to the police when we first starting talking at the station, but this is surely not part of the sworn statement.
The statement, of course, was made after a few [3?] rounds of questioning. The hidden video camera that recorded my statement would likely have been on the entire time I was in the cell, with a team in another room observing throughout. The interrogating officers came and went, certainly to be briefed in between rounds. Questions were fashioned to provoke memories and if possible bring out details.
Secretly, I wonder if they were routing for me to be a good accurate witness, or one prone to manipulation. I tried my best not to invent details that would discredit my testimony, or support other preferred scenarios. I now believe that my perception of the officer almost catching up with the vehicle may be a detail of this sort - one filled in to formulate a response to a question that I should have known the answer to but didn't, or one used as an example that becomes a 'real' point from which to illustrate and begin building other plausible scenarios.
I am also worried about the details I missed: the sound of the crash [perhaps unheard as it happened due north, while my bedroom window is due south], the hand the gun was in, and the description of the officer [I think when you see a person in uniform you mainly see the uniform and not the person -that's why we wear uniforms!- and besides why should I ever have to try to identify a police officer?]
I wonder if the officers realize that now I have also been privy to their ongoing investigation? I have watched them as they measured and surveyed the back lane and the muddy tire tracks. I saw them mark and identify 4 shell casings, located in the yard of the house [I wish I had my camera to photograph that]. I don't know the exact trajectories of shell casings [if they fly left or right or for how far] but the markers seem to support my version of the officer's running at the car in a curve, almost catching up with it at the green fence post.
To my credit at least, the tire tracks of fresh mud show that the car backed up and out of the yard as I describe.
The bullet holes in the windshield are the thing that trouble me the most.1
I could see later from the balcony of my apartment building that the car side window was shot out. This makes sense, but the holes in the windshield don't accord with what I saw at all. The officer would have had to start shooting earlier, while running towards the car as it backed up, for he did not ever seem to be in position to shoot from the front. Moreover, the position of the shell casings found in the backyard and the direction of the tire tracks do not support the location of these holes. Unless the officer did indeed catch up with the vehicle and fired from close range, hooked arm and left-handed while it went by.
I refrain from making any further attempts to explain this. In fact I will do the opposite. I begin by doubting myself completely: the things I am certain of are the colour of the vehicle, the direction the officer ran, the sound of the gun, the use of a 'walky-talky' or some other device to radio that shots had been fired. From this I may argue: I have no good information about the position of the car or the shooter at the time the weapon was discharged, but for the side window to be blown out and there to be holes in the windshield, the tire tracks and shell casings indicate that the car must have been shot while moving forward just after finishing its turn into the back lane.
The official story now being told is "Suspect shot by police was allegedly driving car at officers"
This is just as impossible as the scenario I claim to have witnessed. The angle is just not there. The officer did not enter the lane until after the shots were fired and the car was long gone. Based on the position of the bullet holes in the windshield alone, and the required position for the shooter, once finished backing up, if the car was ever moving towards the officer, it was also turning away from him into the back lane.
It makes no sense. Neither my testimony or the story coming from the media via the police department. There is no good way for me to resolve this, to reconcile the facts, and perhaps there never will be. I wish I'd had a chance to discuss what I saw from where I saw it, rather than from a locked cell, waiting to be set free. I sincerely hope the official report clarify the discrepencies I point out here. It appears that no matter what I say or do, as a witness I am deeply involved and there is certainly much more to be said with regard to this incident. I do know however that my version of events does not change from here.2 I also know from experience that doubt does not diminish but adds to credibility.
However, I apologize for being such a bad witness. I apologize to both the law and the family of the deceased man. I had no idea that perception can be so faulty, and memory so malleable. This has sent me into a deep philosophical conundrum that I am now forced to tackle. I am disturbed by this, what I saw, what I didn't see, what I thought I saw, what must have been, what seemed to be, what is logical, what is impossible, how I was interrogated, how it is now being reported, and how I'm trying to deal with this event [and all its congruities] now freshly part of my memory.
Mostly, I am trying to tackle my personal responsibility in this. It is incredibly easy to discredit me, having my history, and given the fact that in the past I unsuccessfully pursued a Law Enforcement Review Agency complaint for assault inflicted upon me by officers of the Winnipeg Police Department to the point of a judicial hearing, makes this all seem suspect. Indeed, I admit to being very critical and distrustful of the police and their techniques, but certainly not to the point of making a false claim. Had I witnessed a car speeding towards or threatening any officer standing in the back lane I would have said so, but I saw an officer shoot at a vehicle in the process of driving away from the yard.
As the homicide detectives bid me farewell and returned me home to the hermitage, they finally revealed to me that there had been a fatality, and planted a final seed of doubt in my mind when I said 'I can't believe I saw a man shot to death'. The officer replied 'You didn't see anything. You only heard it.'
Unfortunately for all involved, I both heard and saw more than can be forgotten, and more than can be easily dismissed. What I saw will haunt me for the rest of my life.
Even as the tragic details of Lance Muir's life are used to justify his shooting [just as the details of mine will be used to discredit me as a witness], I stand firm and say "I do not believe this man had to die over an attempted break and enter and in trying to fleeing from the law."
1. 2010 May 13. it may be possible, if evidence bears this out, that the bullet holes in the windshield were exiting the car traveling from the passenger side door, not shot from the front, but from the side and through, [going from the south to the north] then there is no real issue. The casings were found, but what of the bullets? The autopsy and ballistics report will naturally stand above this kind of speculation on my part - quite naturally and rightly.
2. original text composed evening 2010 May 10-11. subsequent edits for grammar, minor details, addition of notes only.
3. thank you, most kindly. 2010 May 12.
"Suspect shot by police was allegedly driving car at officers"
Updated: Mon May. 10 2010 19:20:56
The man who was shot and killed by police on Sunday morning was driving a car at officers when police opened fire, CTV News has learned.
Officers were responding to a call about a break-and-enter on Langside Street shortly before 9 a.m. and confronted the suspect, 42-year-old Lance Muir, police said.
During the confrontation, officers shot at Muir and the black Cadillac that Muir was driving smashed into a hydro pole.
Winnipeg Police Chief Keith McCaskill acknowledged that all of the details surrounding the shooting haven't yet been made public.
"It's important, especially since it is an officer-related shooting, to get information out, but I think the public understands we don't want to do it at the expense of the investigation," McCaskill said.
A friend of Muir, who spent time in remand custody with him, said that while Muir did hold animosity toward police, the reports of Muir's behaviour on the day he died don't match up with his typical behaviour.
"He wouldn't break into someone's house he didn't know… He wouldn't cause trouble with someone who didn't deserve it," the friend said.
Muir was a tattoo artist, according to his friend.
"Unfortunately, now some of my tattoos will never get finished. I wish he would have turned his life around to the point where this wouldn't have happened," the friend said.
CTV has learned that Muir has been in trouble with the law for years. In 1997, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for attempted murder.
Parole board documents show that he was supposed to abstain from drugs and alcohol upon his release and when he breached those conditions his parole was revoked.
CTV News also learned that Muir's family has experienced tragedy in the past. Five years ago, Muir's stepbrother and stepsister were killed when the stepsister's husband shot them and then turned the gun on himself.
Mike Sutherland of the Winnipeg Police Association said that officers often deal with repeat offenders such as Muir.
"[I] sincerely hope we get the support that we need in order to make sure violent offenders, violent repeat offenders, spend more time in custody and off the streets," Sutherland said.
The two officers involved in the shooting will be put on administrative leave for a number of days.
They will also get psychological counseling to help them deal with any trauma they may experience, said the Winnipeg Police Association.
- with a report from CTV's Karen Rozcnik
the discrediting: WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 2010/05/10
LANCE Trevor Muir was a 42-year-old former biker known for a fast lifestyle that put him in conflict with the law.
It was fitting then, said a family member, that the tattoo artist and former Spartans gang mem ber died Sunday after a dramatic crash in a Lang side Street alley that left behind a crumpled Cadil lac with a windshield riddled with bullet holes.
Muir had allegedly been breaking into a home on the 100 block of Langside Street, between Westminster Avenue and Sara Avenue, when police of ficers encountered and shot him.
Residents of the West Broadway neighbourhood said they heard shots followed by a large banging noise at about 9 a.m. Sunday.
"As far as I’m concerned, he died the way he lived," said Dean Muir, the man’s 45-year-old brother. "It’s a shock, but a lot of people that knew him could see this coming."
The British Columbia man said Lance Muir was released less than three years ago from federal prison after a conviction for attempted murder. He said the family had scant details Sunday about what transpired before the shooting, but his broth er had a rocky relationship with police.
Police would not comment on a report that Muir had been seen with a crowbar and pillowcase.
Medical personnel rushed to the scene and tried to resuscitate Muir, taking him to hospital.
"We’re very unsure of the whole situation," said Dean Muir, noting the Cadillac belonged to his brother’s friend.
Police would not say how many officers were involved in the incident or how many shots were fired.
"It’s a traumatic incident for everyone," said Winnipeg Police Service spokesman Const. Jason Michalyshen.
Dean Muir said his brother had tangled fre quently with the justice system, although his brother did not usually do break-and-enters.
"When he was younger, maybe a little bit... but this generally was very uncharacteristic of him."
In 1997, then 29-year-old Lance Muir pleaded guilty to attempted murder in connection with the kidnapping and shooting of a 26-year-old man, Terry Fussey, from the same motorcycle gang.
Fussey was taken at gunpoint in May 1996 from a downtown pool hall.
A group of men beat him with a baseball bat, stole cash, and drove him to the Winnipeg Flood way, where they shot him in the head and dumped him. The man stumbled to safety and survived. The attack was chalked up to warring between rival factions of the Spartans.
Muir received a 10-year sentence for attempted murder in connection with the attack, as did Jean Paul Brouillette, then 36. Trouble continued after Muir went to prison. In 2000, he was charged after a former Saskatchewan Penitentiary guard went to court for smuggling hash into the prison.
By 2004, Muir was wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for violating his parole.
"His life was his life, and he led it his way," his brother said. "Most of his life was in institutions." Dean said his father and mother, who are di vorced and live separately in B.C., were strug gling with the news Sunday. The family is trying to get to Winnipeg as soon as possible.
The family was struck by tragedy in 2005 when Lance Muir’s stepsister Sabrina Darichuk and his stepbrother Kelly Camplin were fatally shot by Darichuk’s estranged husband, Mathew Darichuk, before he turned the gun on himself.
"My mom is a very strong woman. My mom knew eventually something like this was going to come to pass," Dean said. He said he last spoke to his brother about two months ago.
Lance Muir lived in a suite at a rickety Young Street rooming house less than 600 metres from where the shooting happened. Rick, a rooming house resident who did not want his last name published, said Muir had no job and no girlfriend. He said Muir was "quiet" and was completing a methadone treatment program.
"I thought he’d be the one burying me," Rick said. "The guy couldn’t get a break.No matter how he tried to do something, it always turned around on him." Lance worked as a tattoo artist at the time of his death, said his brother. "People in the city knew him very well for his artwork."
His Facebook profile shows an ornate image of a skull. Lance Muir had an adult daughter in Win nipeg with whom he was not in contact. Members of his family found out about the death after they received a Facebook message. A relative called a hospital to try to confirm the death before police made it to Muir’s sister to inform her, a family friend said.
Sunday afternoon, yellow police tape still sur rounded a back alley where the crumpled car sat, its wipers still going. A forensic identification truck was parked outside 143 Langside St., and of ficers were at the back of the home.
Officers involved in a shooting are put on paid administrative leave following an incident. An in quest will examine the circumstances of Muir’s death because police were involved.
It’s the city’s second police-involved shooting of the year. In March, police shot and killed a 28-year-old man that witnesses said was carry ing a machete near Sargent Avenue and Arlington Street.