Last of 56 witnesses testifies at Don Dunphy shooting death inquiry

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Alberta team investigating complaint against RNC officer who fatally shot Don Dunphy

It's a wrap for testimony at the judicial inquiry into the fatal shooting of Don Dunphy.

Hearings wrapped up Friday after testimony from 56 witnesses who helped dissect the incident, the deadly confrontation, and the days and weeks that followed it.

For Inquiry Commissioner Justice Leo Barry, lawyers and members of public who followed along, it's been a wild ride that took many unexpected and dramatic turns.

The inquiry is looking at what happened on April 5, 2015 when RNC Const. Joe Smyth fatally shot Dunphy in his Mitchells Brook home.

Smyth, a member of then-premier Paul Davis's security detail, was there to speak with Dunphy about his controversial social media posts about politicians. 

Days after Dunphy died on Easter Sunday 2015, an RCMP statement said Dunphy was shot after he pulled a gun on a police officer. Smyth told the inquiry he fired four times, in self defence.

Dunphy's daughter

But In the early days of January an alternative theory about what may have happened in Dunphy's home emerged.

Dunphy's daughter, Meghan, suggested that maybe Smyth fired after her father raised a stick. Dunphy was an injured worker who used medical marijuana to deal with chronic pain. His daughter said he carried a stick to fend off anyone who might try to steal his medication.

There was more dramatic testimony from two paramedics. Both said the rifle Dunphy is alleged to have pointed at Smyth was in a different position in police photographs than when they saw it hours after the shooting.

And of course, Smyth himself testified. He was questioned and cross-examined for more than six days, and in a surprise turn, was called back to testify again after phone records revealed he had spoken with a colleague before making his police statement ... something he had said he didn't do when he testified the first time.

Those new phone records included a text where Smyth told a friend he was going to visit a "lunatic" who was threatening the premier.

When Smyth was called back he said he hadn't misled the inquiry because he didn't recall the exchange and furthermore it hadn't influenced the statement and notes he gave to police.

Justice Leo Barry said before and during the hearings that one of primary tasks of the inquiry is to establish Smyth's credibility

RCMP scrutinized

The RCMP took a beating with lawyers and witnesses accusing it of tunnel vision — of unquestioning acceptance of Smyth's version of what happened before the investigation into the shooting was completed.

There was also criticism of retired judge David Riche who was hired by the RCMP to independently observe its investigation of the shooting.

The RCMP said he ignored his contract and tried to investigate rather than observe. Smyth also had strong words for Riche's report.

After investigating the shooting the RCMP concluded that Smyth had used appropriate force and no charges were warranted.

Many questions may never be answered to some people's satisfaction but Smyth's lawyer, Jerome Kennedy, and many of the police witnesses said none of the evidence disproved Smyth's statement that he shot Dunphy in self-defence.

Last witness

The last witness Friday was Sgt Patrick Lenehan of the Ontario Provincial Police Force. Lenehan was asked to assess the decisions Smyth made before meeting Dunphy in 2015. He said he found no fault with what Smyth did.

Judge Barry now faces the difficult task of trying to make sense of two months of testimony. Lawyers at the inquiry have until April 7 to submit their final, written submissions to the inquiry. Barry's report and recommendations are due by July 1.