Accused's pistol did not fire without trigger pulled: Gun expert

By Taylor MacPherson
February 1, 2018 - 5:37pm Updated: February 2, 2018 - 12:33pm

An RCMP firearm specialist said he could not make Gerald Stanley's pistol fire without pulling the trigger. 

Gregory Williams, an Ottawa-based RCMP forensic firearms specialist,  was called to offer his expertise on  "firearms identification, functional assessment of firearms componenets, ammunition and devices, comparison and identification of firearm toolmarks on ammunition components, impact damage assessment and range determination."

Williams said he examined both Stanley's Tokarev TT33 handgun along with the damaged Cooey Model 600 bolt-action .22-calibre rifle found near Boushie.

The firearms expert said he tested the Tokarev to see if it could discharge due to an external shock. Williams said he dropped the handgun six times from six different orientations, and the weapon did not discharge at any point.

Sheldon Stanley, the accused's son, stated in his testimony his father told him after the incident that the gun "just went off." 

The .22 was badly damaged and missing a stock, Williams said, but met the legal definition of a firearm. The rifle did not fire normally, he said, and he had to use a hammer to discharge a round.

Cartrige casing found in SUV was "unusual"

Holding the pistol in the witness box, Williams also noted one of the spent Tokarev cartrige casings, which was found on the Ford Escape's dashboard by RCMP investigators, had an unusual bulge indicating that "something unusual happened during firing." During his tests on the pistol, Williams said he was unable to reproduce the phenomenon.

"Ultimately, I don't know what caused it," he said, but told the jury it could have been caused by a mechanical malfunction, defective ammunition, incorrect ammunition or by something obstructing the pistol's barrel.

One possibility Williams suggested could cause the unusual bulge was a hang-fire, which is a type of misfire when the trigger is pulled, but there is a delay before the weapon fires.

"You have a noticable delay from 'click' until 'bang,'" Williams said. "Hang-fires are exceedingly rare."

Hang-fires with modern ammunition tend to last less than half a second, Williams said, but he was not able to say whether the Czech-made ammunition used by Stanley fit his definition of "modern," having been manufactured in 1953. A hang-fire alone would not have caused the unusual bulge, he said, unless someone moved the handgun's slide during the delay between the trigger pull and firing.

The pistol, Williams noted, did not have a safety mechanism.

Defence seizes on eyewitness testimony after it deviates from prior statements

Earlier in the day, defence lawyer Scott Spencer cross-examined 24-year-old witness Belinda Jackson, who was sitting behind Colten Boushie when the 22-year-old was shot and killed. 

Jackson told Crown prosecutor William Burge she was intoxicated and sleeping when her group of friends pulled into Stanley's farmyard on Aug. 9, 2016. 

"I don't remember much after being there. I just rememeber up to the incident where Colten was shot," Jackson said. "Somebody smashed the windshield. Cassidy [Cross-Whitstone] and Eric [Meechance] got out of the vehicle, and they started running." 

Jackson said she heard a voice say "go get a gun," and saw a young man running for the house. The person who spoke, who Jackson could only describe as an older male, went into a nearby outbuilding and emerged roughly a minute later with a handgun, she testified. She said the man walked over to their SUV and shot Boushie twice in the head while he was sitting in the passenger seat.

After the shooting, Jackson said she saw the older man along with a younger man holding something that may have been a shotgun, and also a woman who was mowing the lawn when they arrived.

Jackson said she and another passenger, Kiora Wuttunee, pulled Boushie out of the SUV's passenger seat, then Jackson assaulted the woman who was mowing. Jackson said she punched the woman multiple times before Wuttunee told her to stop. She tried to start the Ford Escape, she said, but failed and walked away from the farmyard down the road.

Under cross-examination, Spencer told Jackson he believed she was not being honest in her testimony. Jackson, he noted, insisted multiple times that she did not see or hear the shooting in her original statement to RCMP. In her original statement, Spencer said, Jackson indicated she believed Boushie was shot by a woman.

"It's beyond belief that you saw somebody get shot and you wouldn't tell the police," Spencer said, before asking Jackson directly if she lied.

"At that time, you were denying knowing anything about the shooting," Spencer said. "None of what you said today is in there.

"I don't believe you're telling the truth," he said at one point during her testimony.

"I wouldn't say I lied to them," Jackson replied. "I didn't tell them the whole truth, but I didn't lie."

At several points during her testimony, Jackson paused and hung her head low, staring down at her feet in the witness box.

Jackson said the RCMP constable who took her statement made her feel like she had done something wrong, altough Spencer noted that she was offered immunity. She was tired and hungry after spending the night in cells, Jackson said, and was uncomfortable speaking to the police.

When she saw Stanley's face in the media after giving her statement, Jackson said more of the details came back to her. Spencer implied she was assuming Stanley was the shooter simply because he was charged, an allegation Jackson denied.

Spencer asked if Jackson saw the .22 rifle which was found loaded near Boushie's body, according to previous testimony by RCMP investigators. Although two other occupants of the SUV said they used the rifle for target practice earlier in the day, Jackson said she did not see any weapons in the Ford Escape.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Commenting on this story is closed now that the matter is before court. 

Correction: A previous headline on this story stated a gun expert did not determine there was any misfires in testing of Stanley's gun. That was misleading as the expert later testified the gun jammed after failing to fire a 'dud bullet'. A new headline was added to this story to remain factually accurate.

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On Twitter: @TaylorMacP

'Anatomy of a hang-fire': Gun expert cross-examined at Stanley Trial

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