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'I feel damaged': Officer shot near Onanole speaks at attempted murder sentencing hearing
More than seven months after an officer-involved shooting near Onanole, Man., a Minnedosa courtroom was filled with friends and family of RCMP Cpl. Graeme Kingdon.
The Crown read an agreed statement of facts detailing the day Kingdon was shot in the back of the head, Aug. 29.
The Crown says Therae Racette-Beaulieu, now 19, committed an armed robbery at a home in Portage la Prairie with another man. The suspects stole the victim's truck and several items before taking off to another home where five guns and a large quantity of ammunition were stolen.
Court heard Kingdon and his partner Const. Mitch Thompson were called to a break-in near Onanole that night, and arrived to find a group leaving the property.
The officers were able to ram the suspects off the road.
Court heard the accused ran up a hill and shot Kingdon in the back of the head, and then fired two more shots towards the two officers.
The shooting prompted a manhunt which lasted into the following day, eventually resulting in the arrest of four men.
Kingdon was airlifted to hospital in Winnipeg, and said he's still dealing with troubling side effects, including living with 17 bullet fragments in his head and neck.
He was one of nearly a dozen people to share victim impact statements at Thursday’s hearing.
"I can't describe how angry I am at the selfishness of the offender," Kingdon told court.
"I feel damaged. I haven't been able to go back to police work, and I don't know yet if I can. My career hangs in the balance. I don't even know when I'll find out if I can ever work again."
The father of two young girls also described what he’s had to miss out on since being shot.
"I can't do the things I used to do,” he said. “I can't play hockey, can't build a rink for my girls, can't teach my girls to ski this winter, I can't even pick them up. I can't even help my wife carry a bag of dog food in from the van."
Kingdon said he had to wear a neck brace for months, has irreparable damage to his vertebrae, and lives in near-constant pain.
“Your cowardly attempt to kill me has failed for now,” said Kingdon.
Kingdon's wife Nakella, his parents and sisters, as well as Thompson and his wife, and a few other community members shared how the shooting has impacted their lives.
Nakella spoke of life before the shooting being simple.
“You made the decision to change our lives,” she said in her impact statement.
Nakella said when she finally saw her husband in hospital it was shocking.
“What I saw would haunt me,” she said. “His body was the colour of grey.”
She said their family has had to adjust to a ‘new normal’ and her sense of security has been stolen.
The defence spoke of a troubled upbringing for the accused.
“I hazard to guess most people were shocked to find out his age,” said defence lawyer Andrew Synyshyn. He said the crime spree was fueled by drugs.
“This is a man who suffered significant harm in his life,” said Synshyn.
He acknowledged the callous nature of the shooting, and said the accused did know right from wrong.
Towards the end of the hearing, Racette-Beaulieu was given the chance to speak.
"Is there anything you wish to say to the court?" asked Judge John Combs.
"No," Racette-Beaulieu replied.
The Crown is seeking 20 years, less 7.6 months for time already served.
The defence is asking for 18 years, with the request the break-and-enter and firearms sentences be served concurrently.
Racette-Beaulieu is scheduled to be sentenced April 23.