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RCMP cars should have dashboard cameras, inquest jury says

An RCMP officer looks over the scene of a deadly shooting in Surrey, B.C., March 3, 2011. Saanich police are still investigating details of the shooting of Surrey resident Adam Brian Purdie, 28, who died near King George and Highway 10 in Surrey late Wednesday evening.

Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

The jury for the coroner's inquest into Adam Purdie's death has recommended that all B.C. RCMP vehicles have dashboard video cameras installed.

The jury has also recommended that RCMP officers making traffic stops should not approach offending vehicles until all information attached to the licence plate has been established.

The inquest was looking into the fatal police shooting of Mr. Purdie on March 2, 2011. RCMP Constable Peter Neily fired 30 rounds after seeing Mr. Purdie aim a rifle at him. One of the bullets pierced Mr. Purdie's heart, killing him.

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The only video available of the incident was taken by an officer's personal video camera attached to his cruiser's dashboard.

The series of events started when Mr. Purdie was stopped for having blacked-out tail lights. The officer who pulled him over noticed a partially concealed rifle in the back seat, but Mr. Purdie fled when the officer questioned him about it.

As RCMP officers attempted to apprehend the fleeing suspect, they were told by radio that he had a previous firearms conviction and was possibly suicidal.

Earlier on Wednesday, the mother of Adam Purdie told the inquest her son had been trying to stay sober but was "emotionally devastated" by a breakup with his girlfriend shortly before his fatal run-in with police.

"Adam was troubled, absolutely," Jane Purdie told the inquest jury. "But he tried so hard."

An RCMP toxicologist told the inquest Mr. Purdie had cocaine and morphine in his system on the evening of the incident.

The inquest also heard from the lead investigator of the incident, Detective Seargent Chris Horsley of the Saanich Police Department. Detective Sgt. Horsley told the jury many of the bullets fired by Const. Neily had hit Mr. Purdie's rifle, disabling it.

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According to Detective Sgt. Horsley, Const. Neily told investigators he reloaded his pistol and fired off the second 15 rounds because he had seen Mr. Purdie struggling to fix his rifle.

Forensic evidence presented to the inquest has shown Mr. Purdie had 17 gunshot wounds, including one that was self-inflicted but survivable.

The Saanich police investigation cleared Const. Neily of criminal responsibility in Mr. Purdie's death. The coroner's inquest was to determine the facts of the incident and come up with recommendations to prevent similar fatalities from occurring.

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