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‘It brought closure’: Sask. First Nation moving forward after killing inquest rests

Members of James Smith Cree Nation expressed feelings of relief and closure Thursday evening as a provincial inquest into Saskatchewan’s worst mass killer closed.

“If you want to heal, you have to learn to forgive, and if you can’t forgive, you will never heal,” said Eddie Head, James Smith Cree Nation justice director and uncle of murderer Myles Sanderson.

RCMP and Saskatoon police were given four recommendations to improve operations after a jury analyzed the events leading up to Sanderson’s capture and eventual arrest on Sept. 7, 2022.

Click to play video: '‘Nobody even shot at me’: Sask. killer’s death confirmed as cocaine overdose'

‘Nobody even shot at me’: Sask. killer’s death confirmed as cocaine overdose

Sanderson went on a stabbing rampage in his home community of James Smith Cree Nation and in Weldon three days earlier, killing 11 people and attacking 17 others.

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After watching videos of the pursuit and arrest, jurors suggested RCMP implement additional training for enhanced takedown and extraction techniques during arrest and require officers to partake in enhanced driver training, including pit manoeuvers.

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The jury saw dashcam footage of Sanderson racing south through the northbound lanes of Highway 11 on the day of his arrest, reaching speeds of 167 km/h, narrowly missing oncoming traffic.

Staying hot on Sanderson’s tail, RCMP Cst. Heidi Marshall pitted Sanderson’s stole Chevrolet Avalanche off the highway, leading to an arrest in the ditch near Rosthern, Sask.

She said she had no training on the driving technique.

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RCMP Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore said the RCMP will review the recommendations provided to them by the jury, including the training of the pit manoeuver.

“We have to remember that this incident was an incredibly high-risk incident outside of what we would see and what we would refer to as day-to-day policing.”

Blackmore noted that officers, including Marshall, were impacted traumatically from the events of that day.

“You saw the emotion from my members that testified,” Blackmore said. “This has had a significant impact on them as well.”

Head and his family invited Const. Marshall to their homes in James Smith Cree Nation to share in healing.

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Click to play video: '‘I was getting ready to die’: Sask. RCMP officers recount chasing mass killer'

‘I was getting ready to die’: Sask. RCMP officers recount chasing mass killer

“It’s one in a million what she has done,” Head said. “We hugged her and told her that we don’t have any grudges.”

Head said watching the videos of Sanderson’s arrest answered lingering questions and brings closure to band and family members.

“There were a lot of rumours that the RCMP mistreated Myles, but obviously, we saw in the report that he wasn’t mistreated,” Head said. “They tried to extend his life.”

Sanderson went into cardiac arrest minutes after being handcuffed by police and was rushed to Saskatoon Royal University Hospital, arriving without a heartbeat.

A forensic toxicologist testified Sanderson had overdosed on an extreme amount of cocaine, 12 times the fatal level.

Agreeing with the opinion of a criminal investigative psychologist who testified during the inquest, jurors decided Sanderson’s overdose was accidental — not an attempted suicide.

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Video footage showed RCMP performing CPR on Sanderson until the minute the ambulance arrived and took control of the scene.

James Smith Cree Nation Chief Wally Burns said he is pushing for the tragedy to be brought to a national inquiry.

“They have been exceptionally determined in moving their communities forward and I am in awe of what they have done and what they continue to do,” Blackmore said.

&© 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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