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The Saint John Law Courts building. Image: Brad Perry

Coroner’s inquest scheduled for man shot by RCMP

By Brad Perry Nov 17, 2023 | 12:53 PM

A coroner’s inquest has been scheduled into the death of a man who was fatally shot by police.

Ryan Nowland died on Dec. 31, 2021, after Mounties responded to a home in Kiersteadville, northeast of Saint John.

On Friday, the Department of Justice announced that a four-day inquest would take place from Nov. 21 to 24.

Jury members who are selected will hear witness evidence to determine the facts surrounding Nowlan’s death.

They will also have the opportunity to make recommendations to prevent similar deaths in the future.

“An inquest is a formal court proceeding that allows for the public presentation of all evidence relating to a death,” the department said in a news release.

“The New Brunswick Coroner Service is an independent fact-finding agency that may not make any finding of legal responsibility.”

RCMP officers cleared of wrongdoing

A report by the Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT) cleared the two RCMP officers of any wrongdoing.

The independent police watchdog said in May 2022 that the force used “was justified and not excessive.”

According to the report, a woman reported being assaulted by her former partner in the early morning hours of Dec. 31, 2021.

The man had become upset after he was awakened when one of the children got up to use the washroom.

According to the report, the woman was choked and had her head pushed into the door, and the man threatened to burn down the house.

The woman went to the Hampton RCMP detachment and two officers accompanied her back to the house.

When officers arrived at the home, they were confronted by a man armed with a utility knife, according to the report.

“Upon seeing this [officer 1] withdrew their firearm from its holster and [officer 2] withdrew their Conducted Energy Weapon (taser),” said the report.

“The [officers] told the [suspect] to drop the knife several times but the [suspect] refused to do so.”

When the man began advancing toward the officers, one of them fired their taser. The suspect “fell to the ground in the closet, rolled around and then stood up with the utility knife still in his hand.”

The officer deployed their taser two more times but, according to investigators, it did not function.

SiRT said the suspect moved toward the first officer, who fired their pistol once and struck them in the shoulder, causing them to move backwards.

“The [suspect] then lunged at [officer 1] and struck them in the face with the utility knife,” said the report.

Investigators said the first officer fell to the floor and the suspect advanced toward the second officer. The officer fired a single shot, which struck the man in the abdomen.

The man was transported to the hospital but died before he even arrived, according to the report.

RCMP said the officer who was injured during the incident was treated in the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries and later released.

The report said the officers had “reasonable grounds” to believe that the use of force was necessary as there was “clear evidence that the [suspect] intended to cause death or grievous bodily harm to the [officers].”