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47 shots fired by RCMP in death of Buick Creek resident

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A Fort St. John jury heard Tuesday that 47 shots were fired in the death of Buick Creek resident Valeri George.

George was shot and killed by RCMP on September 30, 2009. A coroner’s inquest into his death is currently being held.

Dr. Charles Lee, the forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy, said George was struck by 4 of those 47 bullets. Two of those hit him in the lower part of his neck and his chest, injuring both lungs. Lee determined those to be the fatal shots.

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George was also shot through the leg and the arm, but Lee said those were relatively superficial injuries. George also sustained minor scrapes and cuts, likely due to bullet fragments and glass, as many shots were fired through the vehicle he was hiding behind.

If 47 shots seems like a lot, Emergency Response Team leader Cpl. Richard Brown explained that when police officers are under stress they often fire numerous shots without realizing it. For example, Brown initially thought he had only shot around 7 times when in reality, he had fired 14 shots. Brown also explained that the van George was defending himself with was never put in park, and was slowly moving forward.

Cpl. Ryan Arnold also continued his testimony from Monday, justifying why he fired the initial shot.

There were a numbers of factors Arnold says indicated George was not willing to surrender. When walking around his property, George was apparently shouldering his rifle, seeming to be practicing his aim. Arnold also heard he had picked up the phone and hung up, seemingly unwilling to speak to negotiators. That, in addition to the accelerated speed at which George was driving the final time, Arnold says caused him to fear for his safety and pull the trigger.

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The inquest, led by Coroner Rodrick H. Mackenzie, continues Wednesday, with testimony from more RCMP officers, as well as the main investigator.

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