An Alberta man who shot and wounded two Mounties during a standoff has been given a plea deal of nearly eight years, in part because officers didn't announce who they were before breaking into his home.
Court heard Monday that the RCMP tried to use a few different speaker systems to declare themselves on Dec. 3, 2011, but none was working. Officers also spent several hours searching the man's rural property and believed no one was there.
But Bradley Beaver, a crystal-meth addict, was with his girlfriend inside a darkened mobile home on the property near Breton, southwest of Edmonton. And when an officer started smashing one of the trailer's windows, Beaver fired his rifle.
"I wished I would have known it was them," the 40-year-old told court. "I was fearing for my life that night."
Beaver's lawyer, Peter Royal, said it's amazing no one died in the gun battle. Beaver fired a total of eight shots, wounding two officers in their arms. RCMP fired back 30 times, wounding both Beaver and his girlfriend.
Beaver, standing in court with a metal brace on his arm hidden underneath his suit, pleaded guilty to three counts of reckless discharge of a firearm. Several other charges, including attempted murder, were withdrawn.
Crown prosecutor Rodney Clark told court that if the Mounties had made their presence known that night, he would not have recommended the eight-year term.
Justice Paul Jeffrey of Court Of Queen's Bench agreed with the plea bargain and gave Beaver credit for 10 months he has already spent in custody, leaving him with a total sentence of seven years and two months.
The judge heard how Beaver was an out-of-work trucker whose trailer was about to be repossessed. He also owed another man money.
Kevin Gionet had gone to collect his $1,600 earlier that day and, when he drove onto Beaver's property, Beaver shot out the back window of the man's pickup truck. Another bullet grazed Gionet's arm.
When police learned of that shooting they went to Beaver's, but they believed he had fled. Officers searched a Quonset hut and outdoor storage unit on the property and a police dog didn't sense anyone was there.
Clark told court that after the officers tried to use the broken speaker equipment, they decided to check out the mobile home. No lights were on, but there was a faint flicker that could have been a television.
Officers decided to break a window and were about to toss a robotic camera inside when Beaver – believing Gionet had returned – fired three shots, striking one officer.
Clark said Mounties then started yelling: "It's police! Stop shooting!"
But Beaver kept on firing. He climbed partway out the broken window and shot off five more rounds, hitting the second officer. During the ensuring standoff, Beaver's girlfriend tried to leave the trailer, but Beaver was beside her holding his gun, said Clark. Police fired and hit both of them.
About 12 hours after the shooting started, the couple surrendered and were taken to hospital.
Candace Proctor received a flesh wound to her thigh. Court heard that Beaver's injury was more serious and he still has problems using his left arm.
Clark said both officers still suffer from their bullet wounds. Staff Sergeant Patrick MacIsaac will never regain full use of his arm and is unable to return to active duty. Corporal Peter King has about 80 per cent strength in his arm.
"I apologize to the officers that were hurt," Beaver told the court.
"I'm glad nobody died."