Case Studies

Lawyer says police may have overstepped authority before shooting of officer

CBC News · Posted: Oct 26, 2006 10:58 AM ET | Last Updated: October 27, 2006

The lawyer for a man accused of shooting a police officer in eastern Ontario is raising questions about the way police handled the events on the night of the shooting in June.

At the time, Rodney Wayne King— whohadbeen convicted of firearms offencesseveral years earlier —was refusing to leave the house he had owned for years, after it had been sold for non-payment of taxes.

King's lawyer, Raj Napal, said police may have overstepped their authority on the night of June 1 at thefarmhouse in Jasper,near Smiths Falls, about75 kilometres southwest of Ottawa.

Notary Public Brampton
Rodney King's lawyer, Raj Napal, says a court order did not allow police to remove his client from the house he once owned. ((CBC))

Surrendered after standoff

King, 52,surrendered to police after a 15-hour standoffthattook place afterOntario Provincial Police Const. Chris Trower was shot and seriously wounded in the upper body.

Kingwas subsequently charged with the attempted murder oftwo police officers.

Just before the shooting, Trower and four other police officershadcome tothe housewith Richard Seguin,who had bought theproperty three months earlier. Seguin, who is from Ottawa,meant to takethehouseover from King, as allowed by a court order.

Napalsaida civil hearing in courthadmadeclear whatthe order did and did not allow. During the case, lawyers for the police argued that police should not become involved in a civil matter.

"There was a court order that empowered the sheriff to take possession of the premises from Mr. King," Napal said outside King's bail hearing Wednesday."But [it] did not entitle the police … to take Mr. King away from the premises."

Napal questioned whetherkeeping the peacewas all police did during theincident in whichKingwas pepper-sprayed and Trower was shot inside the house.

"Were the police keeping the peace there?" Napal asked. "Did they go further than that?"

Trower, 27, is still recovering from the shooting.

King has pleaded not guilty and hassuggested in court that the shooting was accidental.

Rodney King suggested the shooting of Const. Chris Trower was an accident, not an attempted murder. ((CBC))

King said Canadian law didn't apply to him

According to friends, includingScott Brennan, King bred chickens and goats and worked on carpentry projectson the farm he once shared with his wife.

Police knew King from domesticdisputeswhile he was married and from incidents after his marriage ended in 1999.

About that time,Kingbegan declaringthat Canadian law no longer applied to him, according tocourt documents from an earlier case.

He made his own licence plates and wrote his own driving certificate, saidthedocuments related to a trial that took place after King shot himself in the leg in 2000.

Following thatincident, police searchedKing's home, where they found rifles, handguns and illegal ammunition.King was convicted of several weapons offences.

After Trower's shooting,a psychiatristdiagnosed King with a mental illnessmanifested bysymptoms that included paranoid delusions.

Friend warned police King didn't want to leave

King's longtime home was auctionedinMarch after he failed to pay years' worth of property taxes worth thousands of dollars.

King was a longtime owner of the house, but it was auctioned off in March because he owed years' worth of property taxes. ((CBC))

But King refused to leave, court documents say.

He had sent a promissory note to tax authorities that said he would pay back the taxes in the future and said he believed he had the right to stay.

The new owner, Seguin, asked a civil court judge to order police to remove him.

Brennan said he warned police about King's reluctance to leave two weeks before the shooting took place.

King's friend, Scott Brennan, said he warned police that King didn't want to leave and he warned King that police were coming. ((CBC))

"When the OPP detectives asked me about Rod King, I definitely told them he didn't want to leave his home," said Brennan, who also warned King that police might be coming to evict him.

In response to Seguin's motion, lawyers for the police argued that police should not involve themselves in a civil matter and they filed an affidavit the size of a department store catalogue to back up their arguments.

The judge agreed and dismissed the new owner's motion.

Two days later, on June 1,five police officers accompanied Seguin to the home, but the details of how the shooting and the standoffunfolded from there remain to be determined in court.

King's bail hearing is set to continuein the second week of November.