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Witnesses take the stand in trial for 2019 shooting outside Whitehorse bar

Witnesses report seeing man with gun moments after shot fired
The criminal trial looking into the shooting in front of a Whitehorse bar in 2019 is ongoing. (Yukon News file)

The court case probing a 2019 shooting outside a downtown Whitehorse bar heard testimony from witnesses who were on the street near the bar’s front entrance when the shot was fired.

Malakal Kwony Tuel is charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault relating to the shooting and also faces cocaine possession, possession of cash derived from crime and firearms-related charges.

Joseph Wuor, who was arrested at the same time as Tuel, is also in court facing cocaine, firearm and cash derived from crime possession charges.

The shooting took place in the early hours of Dec. 1, 2019, in front of the bar on Jarvis Street, known at the time as the 202. John Thomas Papequash was the man who was shot.

Testimony on the third and fourth day of the trial dealt with events outside of the bar in the moments before and after the gunshot. The court heard from a cab driver who was parked outside the bar’s entrance, one of its doormen and four friends who had just left the bar.

Lahcen Amzoug, the taxi driver, testified by videoconference on June 1. The crown counsels showed dash camera footage recorded from Amzoug’s taxi.

The video shows a tall, slim Black man walking across the frame. At the far right of the frame the front entrance to the 202 can be seen. Amzoug testifies he saw the man walk over and speak with a shorter Black man, but that man never appears on the video.

Amzoug also testified that he saw the man who would later be shot walk up and begin talking to the two men in an agitated fashion with his arms raised. He said he turned his head to look over at another cab pulling into the parking stall next to him and heard a loud sound and a flash from the direction of the bar door.

The video shows the tall man running back the way he came after the gun shot goes off. Amzoug testified that the shorter man ran in the opposite direction, toward Second Avenue.

The video shows Amzoug driving further down the street before getting out of the car. He said he briefly went to join those gathered around the man who had been shot. As he leaves the area after getting back in his taxi, the video shows him describing the two men to an arriving RCMP officer.

Under cross examination from defence lawyer Dale Fedorchuk, Amzoug acknowledged that he did not see the shot being fired or see a gun at any point.

Doorman Donald Tutin also spent time on the witness stand detailing how he heard a loud noise from directly inside the bar’s front door before running outside and seeing that a man had been shot. He said he briefly followed another doorman down the street but he turned back. On cross examination he acknowledged not seeing anyone with a gun.

The four other witnesses were among a group of friends who stepped out of the bar moments before Papequash was shot. Their recollections on the stand varied but some of them were the first witnesses in the trial to state that they saw someone with a gun in hand.

The first witness of the June 2 court sitting was Léa Imbeau. She described getting a close look at the two described men in the bar when she invited a woman they were speaking with, who appeared drunk or disoriented, to sit with her friends and have a glass of water. On cross examination Imbeau acknowledged that the area was dimly lit and that their interaction with the men was brief and friendly. She said she remembered some features such as the shorter man’s round face and broad nose.

Imbeau said she is sure that the men in court, Tuel and Wuor, were the men she saw at the bar but added that she didn’t see them out on the street or see anyone shooting or holding a gun.

Josiane Lavoie, the second witness of the day, said she saw a Black man and an Indigenous man talking beside the bar’s front entrance as they walked by on the sidewalk and later saw the Indigenous man on the ground. She recalled at first thinking the gunshot was a firework or a cap gun. She said she felt someone running by her left side and then saw a person on the ground near the entrance to the bar. She said the person who ran by stopped at the corner and pointed a handgun back down the sidewalk towards the entrance of the bar.

Cross examination raised questions about how the man could have run by her based on where she said she was when she heard the gunshot.

Alberto Gimenez also recounted seeing the man point his gun down the street from the corner. He identified one of the Black men as taller and the other as shorter and stockier. On the stand he made an unsure identification of the man with the gun as the taller man he had seen in the bar and remembered little of what the man was wearing.

Kamille LeMay said she saw the man running down the sidewalk from the bar entrance with a gun and turning around at the corner of the building to point it back towards the bar. She identified this person as the shorter of the two Black men in the bar and said she saw him talking to the shooting victim outside the 202. People in the courtroom were asked to remove their masks and she identified Tuel as the shorter of the two men — the one who she saw with the gun. She was less sure in her identification of Wuor as the man who was with Tuel at the bar entrance.

Fedorchuk’s cross examination pointed out inconsistencies with LeMay’s recollection of what the man with the gun she described was wearing.

Cross examination of all four witnesses focused on inconsistencies between their testimony on the stand and earlier information provided in police reports and in preliminary hearings. None of them saw a shot being fired.

The trial is ongoing and expected to continue well into June.

Contact Jim Elliot at

Jim Elliot

About the Author: Jim Elliot

I’m a B.C. transplant here in Whitehorse at The News telling stories about the Yukon's people, environment, and culture.
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