Mountie on trial for dangerous driving tells jurors he won't take the stand

Accused cop will not testify

Court exhibit

A Kamloops Mountie on trial for dangerous driving will not testify in his own defence, a jury has been told.

The evidence portion of RCMP Const. Christopher Squire’s trial wrapped up Wednesday morning in B.C. Supreme Court with the officer addressing jurors directly.

“I will not be calling any defence evidence,” he told them.

The Crown closed its case on Tuesday afternoon following four days of testimony spread out over more than a week.

Squire is accused of driving dangerously during a high-speed chase of a stolen Ford pickup truck on Dec. 8, 2018. Court has heard the 33-year-old was one of a handful of officers involved in the early-morning pursuit, which reached speeds of 140 km/h on Westsyde Road.

The chase ended when Squire intentionally ran the truck off the road — three minutes after his superior ordered an end to the pursuit.

The trial has been unusual in that nearly all of the Crown's witnesses spoke glowingly of the actions of the accused, who is their co-worker.

The final witness for prosecutors on Tuesday was RCMP Sgt. Brian Merriman, who was critical of Squire’s conduct during the pursuit. Merriman was the Mountie tasked with conducting an internal investigation into the incident.

Crown prosecutor Andrew McLean had Merriman detail for the jury a raft of RCMP protocols about when suspects can and cannot be pursued. Merriman said pursuits are only authorized when “immediate apprehension is required to prevent imminent harm” — not in the case of stolen vehicles, like the truck Squire ran off Westsyde Road.

Merriman also described a local procedure in place at the Kamloops RCMP detachment that mandates a three-minute cooldown period once a pursuit is called off.

“And that’s unique to Kamloops, the three minutes specifically,” he said.

The written procedure says it is in place to allow time for officers to “reduce their adrenaline” and avoid civil liability in the event of a collision, jurors were told.

Squire pulled over briefly to the side of Westsyde Road when the pursuit of the truck was called off by his superior. He was in motion again about 10 seconds later.

Under intense cross-examination from defence lawyer Brad Smith, Merriman doubled down on his criticism of Squire’s conduct.

Merriman maintained Squire was not authorized to be speeding or driving aggressively while pursuing the truck because the chase itself was not allowed under RCMP policy.

“The very basis of this was, do not chase stolen vehicles — do not pursue stolen vehicles,” he said.

“The first thing to consider is what’s the offence? A stolen vehicle? Stop the pursuit. It’s that simple.”

Squire’s superior, Staff Sgt. Brandon Buliziuk, earlier testified that RCMP policies make it “very difficult” for Mounties to catch vehicle thieves.

Buliziuk said he was of the opinion that Squire did not re-engage the pursuit following his orders to stop. He also praised Squire’s actions in running the truck off the road using a police technique that is not taught to Mounties.

Jurors will return to court Friday for closing submissions. It is expected that they will begin their deliberations on Monday.

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