'I'm going to die': Officer recalls night Beau Baker died
Remembering the night he fatally shot Beau Baker outside a Kitchener apartment on Brybeck Crescent in April 2015, Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) Staff Sgt. Eric Boynton - who was a patrol officer at the time - testified he was worried about Baker killing himself or others.
Boynton said when he arrived to the scene, he saw three people outside. Boynton said he wasn’t sure who the people were, and asked about an object he saw in one of their hands.
Boynton said he realized it was a knife and concluded that the person holding it was the person dispatch told him was threatening to kill emergency responders and people passing by.
“The totality of the circumstances around me and that were outside, there’s passersby and so on, and that he has a knife and presents it in that way, that he was capable of causing myself, himself and the public serious bodily harm or death. As such, I drew my firearm and pointed it at him,” Boynton said.
“It’s etched in my memory because it’s very odd for someone to say ‘a really sharp knife’ and hold it up like that,” Boynton said.
Boynton said he told the two other people to move away and repositioned himself so if he had to shoot his gun, any bullets that might miss wouldn’t hit someone behind Baker.
Boynton said Baker was threatening to stab him and didn't seem to care that he was at gunpoint. He said he was pleading with Baker to drop the knife.
“Desperately trying to figure out whatever hook - whatever thing I could say - to him to get him to put down the knife. Because my fear was that everything I said to him wasn’t having an effect,” Boynton said.
Boynton said when another officer arrived on scene, he looked at the other officer, taking his eyes off Baker for a moment.
“Beau took that opportunity to advance in my direction,” Boynton said.
That’s when Boynton fired his gun.
“The first ones missed. I remember there was this fear that for some reason I’m pulling the trigger, and nothing is happening,” Boynton said.
“If I don’t do something more, I’m going to die,” Boynton said.
Boynton said the last time he pulled the trigger was the round that stopped Baker - hitting him in the centre of his body. He quickly began life-saving efforts on Baker.
Boynton said he didn't have a Conducted Energy Weapon (CEW), commonly known as a Taser, but said he would never put a gun away to replace it with a CEW, and it wouldn't have been reliable enough to use a CEW in the situation.
According to Boynton, he’s tormented himself thinking of different outcomes, but no matter what he always concludes the only correct response is what happened.
Holding back tears, Boynton said he has a son too.
“Parents shouldn’t have to bury their kids. And for the role I played in that, I’m sorry,” Boynton said.
During cross examination, Boynton was asked if he ever told Baker he would shoot him if he moved.
Boynton said he believed he did, but it wasn't recorded in any notes or earlier testimony.
FAMILY FINALLY HEARING DETAILS
Nearly eight years since the shooting, this is the first time the Baker family is hearing what happened that night. The family’s lawyer said they're happy it's happening, but knowing the details of the shooting are tough to take.
"They’ve waited a really long time to really actually find out what happened that night. They've been getting bits and pieces. So, it's really important for them to be able to hear everything," Asha James, the lawyer for the Baker family said.
James said the family is hoping the inquest can lead to recommendations surrounding escalation involving police and providing enough mental health supports to try and avoid similar situations occurring in the future.
“The idea of the interventions that could have happened earlier that may have changed the trajectory of Beau’s path,” James said.
The jury is expected to hear from Baker’s family doctor on Thursday, as well, the chief of police is expected to testify tomorrow about police responses to mental health calls.
A previous version of this story incorrectly said John Goodman was WRPS Chief at the time of Baker's death. In fact, Bryan Larkin was the chief at the time.
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