Witnesses describe alleged skateboard attack on off-duty Abbotsford police officer during manslaughter trial

Const. Allan Young of the Abbotsford Police Force died while off duty after a confrontation with another man on a street in Nelson, B.C., in 2020.  (Submitted by Abbotsford Police Department - image credit)
Const. Allan Young of the Abbotsford Police Force died while off duty after a confrontation with another man on a street in Nelson, B.C., in 2020. (Submitted by Abbotsford Police Department - image credit)

Warning: This story contains details of violence.

A courtroom in Nelson, B.C., heard testimony this week from witnesses who described a confrontation between two men on the city's main downtown street in July 2020, which ended with a skateboard attack that allegedly killed off-duty police officer Allan Young.

Alex Willness, 28, has pleaded not guilty to one count of manslaughter.

Young, 55, was a 20-year-veteran with the Abbotsford Police Force and died at Kelowna General Hospital five days after the incident.

This week, several people who were sitting on an outdoor restaurant patio that evening testified about the confrontation between the two men and what led up to it.

Allison Howe told the court she had just arrived in Nelson, about 92 kilometres north of the border with the U.S., hours before and was having drinks with a group of friends when she heard yelling and swearing coming from a group of people further down the street.

'Very loud and almost intolerable'

She described seeing three people staggering down the street and yelling profanity at one another, which she said disturbed the mood on the patio.

"It was very loud and almost intolerable because of the disgusting things that these people were saying," Howe said.

She described the three as "very unsavoury" and said the way they were stumbling and yelling at each other made her think they were all "extremely high" on drugs.

Another customer sitting at the patio, who she later learned was Young, appeared irritated and stood up to confront the men, Howe testified.

Howe told the court Young looked like he was intoxicated as he steadied himself against the railing.

Another witness, referred to as Mr. Tait in court, said he too witnessed the incident from where he was sitting at the same patio with his father.

Skateboard attack

He testified Young announced, "I've had enough of this," before he stepped over the patio railing and walked toward the group.

Young approached a young man with a skateboard, told him to "stop it," and gestured with his hands for the man to relax, Tait said.

"The guy lifted up his skateboard and turned it into a bat and hit him in the side of the head," Tait testified.

The witnesses said Young fell to the ground and hit his head on the cement street.

Both of them jumped into action, with Howe testifying she ran to help Young, by holding his head and neck until paramedics arrived, and Tait saying he and his father chased after the man with the skateboard.

Tait told the court he and his father caught up to the young man who then turned toward them.

"He lunged at my dad and my father took him to the ground," Tait said.

"I jumped on top of him. I picked him up and put him into a choke hold to hold him in place."

'Open skull fracture'

Earlier in the week, Dr. Rahul Khosla, an emergency physician at Kootenay Lake Hospital in Nelson, took the stand.

He described examining Young at the hospital and said he had 'an open skull fracture' but was conscious.

Young was agitated, disorientated and not following commands, Khosla said, adding that his behaviour could have been from the head injury or from intoxication.

Khosla told the court Young underwent a CT scan that showed bleeding in the brain and increased pressure in the skull.

Young was eventually taken by ambulance to Kelowna General Hospital, which is more specialized to treat critically ill patients with head trauma, he said.

Young was put on life support and died in hospital five days after the incident.

Willness's lawyer Jordan Watt has not indicated if Willness will take the stand in his defence during the trial.

The hearing continues later this month.