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Cowichan cop Pompeo guilty in shooting
RCMP Const. David Pompeo has been found guilty of aggravated assault in the September
2009 shooting of Bill Gillespie.
Judge Josiah Wood pronounced judgement swiftly on the former North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP officer, now with the Nanaimo detachment, and without explanation Thursday morning in Duncan Provincial Court.
“I find you guilty, sir,’’ said Wood to a few gasps from those assembled in the courtroom.
“I didn’t see that coming,’’ one officer, who attended the proceedings, said outside the courtroom.
Tuesday, March 12 at 2 p.m. has been set as the time to fix a date for sentencing.
There doesn’t appear to be any guidelines for sentencing recommendations.
“Frankly, there isn’t a case like this,’’ said defence counsel Ravi Hira.
Gillespie was obviously elated with the verdict.
“First of all, let me say I wish this never happened,’’ he said in a prepared statement for the media.
“I am very pleased that Judge Wood did not believe Const. David Pompeo’s version of the events of Sept. 18, 2009. And that his life was never in any real danger behind his steel truck door and his bulletproof vest. There will be no ‘shoot-first’ policy. People across Canada should be pleased that the courts are not going to look the other way on police use of excessive force.’’
Gillespie was the driver of a car pulled over during a routine traffic stop near Chemainus. He was ordered out of the car by Pompeo while Pompeo’s partner, Const. David Birchett, made the same order to Gillespie’s passenger, Dale Brewer.
Gillespie was subsequently shot by Pompeo but survived, with the bullet still lodged in him.
“It’s a bloody miracle I survived,’’ Gillespie told the News Leader Pictorial outside the courthouse.
“I”m happy the judge believed me and my version of what happened that day,’’ he added in front of a media scrum. “I guess I’ll have a chance to look at the reasons later.
“I get up every day with a reminder of what happened that night. You’re just a nervous wreck. You don’t know what’s around the corner for you. It’s hard to explain the harassment. It’s just been terrible.’’
The reading of the verdict had a profound effect on Gillespie’s girlfriend, Marina Sacht.
“My jaw dropped,’’ she said. “He is a good judge, though.’’
Sacht recounted the terrible toll the incident took on Gillespie initially and since the shooting.
“We didn’t think he was going to survive,’’ she said. “I took a photograph of him with my iPhone because somebody needs to see what that looks like.
“There’s a post-traumatic stress that people don’t understand. He can’t sleep most nights and his anxiety level is up.’’
Gillespie was also supported in court by his mom, Catherine Pastula.
Neither Pompeo nor Hira made themselves available for comment after the decision.
North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP Insp. Kevin Hewco referred questions about Pompeo’s status to the Nanaimo RCMP media liaison, who had not returned calls by the NLP’s press time.
“I can’t speak to his actual daily status,’’ said Hewco.
Pompeo had been suspended from active duty with pay and limited to administrative work through the course of the trial.
Crown Counsel Todd Patola wouldn’t say what his parameters would be for sentencing at this point.
“The range of sentencing for this case will be the subject of our sentencing submissions,’’ Patola said. “That’s going to be particular to the facts of this case.
“I would still have to read the decision to say what in particular was of importance to the judge.’’
“I hope that today’s decision of aggravated assault will change the RCMP for the better and we see less and less of this kind of behaviour,’’ Gillespie added in his statement.
“Hopefully today there is a message to the RCMP that they are accountable, and that not telling the truth is not their only option. And I hope people and the media continue to be vigilant in keeping the RCMP accountable and transparent, and that the RCMP work on rebuilding public confidence through a reformed process.’’