The police officer who left a high-speed chase with metal fragments in his eyes, face and shoulder was the last person to testify for the prosecution at a Yukon attempted murder trial.
Cpl. Kim MacKellar took the stand yesterday to tell his story of what happened nearly two years ago on the Alaska Highway near Haines Junction.
Christopher Cornell, 31, is accused of a string of crimes including attempting to kill MacKellar with a rifle.
MacKellar, a 27-year veteran of the RCMP and the Haines Junction detachment commander, was on call the morning of Sept. 26, 2011 when he received a report of two intruders at a house in his Willow Acres neighbourhood.
While circling through the area he came across deputy conservation officer Shane Oakley. The two were together in the marked police vehicle when the call came in to go to Madley’s General Store.
Cornell is also facing charges of using violence to steal a safe from the store and assaulting the custodian with bear spray.
MacKellar told the court he saw a man jump up from the side of a dark SUV. The man then got into the driver’s side and began to drive away.
What followed was a chase north on the Alaska Highway towards Beaver Creek.
At points, speeds reached 130 km/h, but at other times they were closer to regular highway speed, MacKellar testified.
At what would end up being the conclusion of the chase, the rear window of the fleeing SUV shattered.
Then there was a second crash.
“At first I thought something had been thrown at the vehicle, bounced up and hit the window,” MacKellar said.
The officer testified that Oakley told him “they’re shooting at us” and pointed to the bullet hole in the window.
MacKellar said he knew something was wrong.
He pulled the vehicle over and Oakley took over driving.
“I saw blood on my jacket, I could taste blood and I could feel my bottom lip was split,” he said.
He would later find out he had metal fragments in his eyes, face, neck chest and shoulder, MacKellar told the jury.
He would be medevaced from Haines Junction to Whitehorse and later to Vancouver for multiple surgeries to have the pieces removed.
An expert has already testified that it was a bullet that came through the windshield from directly in front of the police vehicle.
Laura Knowles told the court earlier in the trial that the bullet was travelling at more than 2,000 feet per second through the radar on the vehicle’s dashboard.
Damage to the clothes and body armour MacKellar was wearing that day is consistent with bullet damage, she said.
During cross-examination from Cornell’s lawyer, David Tarnow, MacKellar agreed he didn’t see a gun or a rifle that day and didn’t see anyone point a gun or a rifle at the vehicle.
He also could not identify the person who he saw at Madley’s store.
MacKellar was off work for three months after the incident.
He still has metal fragments in his shoulder, he said.
“I think about it often,” the long-time officer told the court.
“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?” asked prosecutor Keith Parkkari.
“It’s a bad thing. It’s something I don’t think anyone should have to think about at all.”
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