The public inquiry investigating the mass shooting in Nova Scotia that claimed 22 lives resumes today with testimony expected from the first three RCMP officers to arrive at the chaotic scene in Portapique, N.S., on April 18, 2020.
The testimony will mark the first time the inquiry hears from anyone directly involved in the worst mass shooting in modern Canadian history.
Lawyers for some of the victims’ families have said they are worried the inquiry’s rules will limit their ability to directly question the officers and other witnesses.
The inquiry’s three commissioners have said participating lawyers must ask permission before they can cross-examine any witness, a rule that is unusual for public inquiries.
The three first responders scheduled to testify are constables Stuart Beselt, Adam Merchant and Aaron Patton, who have already provided previous, closed-door statements to the RCMP and the commission.
The RCMP and the union that represents officers had argued their members should be exempt from testifying because it would be too traumatic for them, but the commissioners rejected that request.
The trio, however, will not face regular questioning from inquiry lawyers. Instead, they will take part in a so-called witness panel, with the initial round of questions coming from the commission’s counsel.
In their previous statements, the three officers confirmed that within minutes of arriving in Portapique at 10:25 p.m., they donned body armour, armed themselves with semi-automatic carbines and quickly moved into the dark, rural enclave where an active shooter had already killed several people.
Testimony is also expected later from five supervising RCMP officers and four senior Mounties, including RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 28.
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