Surrey RCMP Const. Joseph Lau was having a late lunch at the Newton detachment when he heard the loud bang. He initially didn’t give it much thought as there was a garbage dumpster nearby that often made crashing sounds when it was emptied.
Seconds later, however, a fellow police officer’s distressed voice came over his radio, saying he needed immediate assistance.
Lau ran out of the building into the parking lot, where he saw smoke and a green Ford Explorer crashed into the side of a police cruiser, which had been pushed into a second police car.
Lau was one of several witnesses who testified Tuesday at the trial of James Burton Weaver, who’s accused of ramming into police cars in the parking lot near 72 Avenue and 137 Street in the afternoon of Jan. 27 of this year, injuring two RCMP officers.
A female officer was inside the struck cruiser, while a male officer was on foot and pinned between two police vehicles.
Weaver, 47, faces two counts each of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon.
Lau said he saw a colleague trying, unsuccessfully, to get a female officer out of one of the police cruisers. But the car was pinned between two others leaving little room to open the door.
Lau saw that the officer in the car was agitated, crying and in a “state of panic,” he told the Surrey Provincial Court judge.
He got into the car, he testified, and concentrated on calming her down and securing her neck. Lau said it was then the female officer told him the driver of the Explorer “tried to kill me.”
Weaver does not deny the incident, and in a statement agreed upon by Crown prosecutor Winston Sayson and defence David Albert, admits he drove his SUV into a parked police cruiser that day, not only damaging two cars, but injuring two RCMP members.
The issue before the court, said Sayson, is whether Weaver had the mental capacity to intentionally commit the offence.
Weaver was uninjured in the crash. At the time, his girlfriend told the media Weaver had recently gone off medication he took for depression.
Dark haired with a goatee and wearing an orange prison-issue shirt and pants, Weaver listened to the testimony from the glass prisoner’s box.
Civilian Adam Clark said before he went into Save On Foods for work on the day of the crash, he saw a dark-coloured Explorer circle the parking lot at least twice. Then he heard an engine revving and looked up to see an SUV hit a police car.
Joseph Szunyik was picking his wife up from work at about the same time when he saw a truck speeding through the Newton parking lot.
“I was amazed at how fast he was going,” said Szunyik, who said he saw the truck fly over a speed bump before he heard a crash.
Const. Lau said he helped transport Weaver to the main RCMP detachment following his arrest. When asked by Sayson, Lau said though quiet, Weaver was cooperative, able to answer basic questions, was walking normally and could dress himself.
The trial is scheduled for five days.