The Montreal police officer who shot and killed Fredy Villanueva testified he didn’t think things could have been done any other way or that anything different would have saved the life of the 18-year-old.
On his third day on the stand at the coroner’s inquest into the fatal police shooting of Villanueva, Jean-Loup Lapointe testified he acted as calmly as possible, his emotions in check, treating everyone respectfully. He also testified he used the proper amount of force, respecting the regulations to a ‘T.’
When asked if he thought a GPS panic button would have helped, Lapointe said all the panic buttons in the world wouldn’t have changed anything, considering how quickly the violence was escalating.
Upon cross-examination, Lapointe was asked why he didn’t use his nightstick or pepper spray first when trying to arrest an angry and hostile Dany Villanueva, Fredy’s brother. He answered that the nightstick wasn’t appropriate at that stage and that the pepper spray would have affected him as well because he was too close to Villanueva.
Lapointe testified that during his 4 1/2 years on the force, he felt scared enough to break out the pepper spray, use his nightstick, or aim his firearm at someone, but that this was the first time he felt scared enough for his life that he opened fire.
Lapointe and his partner Stéphanie Pilotte were trying to arrest Fredy Villanueva’s brother Dany the night of August 9, 2008 when things degenerated and Lapointe opened fire, saying he felt his life was in danger. Fredy Villanueva was shot and killed and two other young men were wounded.
Lapointe told the court that he handed in his report about the events almost a month later because things that happened after the shooting stressed him out. He cited the Montreal North riots as well as a reporter’s calls to his cellphone and his parents. Lapointe said he needed time to think things through. Pilotte gave in her written version of events less than a week after the incident.
Lapointe’s testimony also highlighted certain lapses in the way police handled the investigation of the shooting. Lapointe and his partner were never isolated to avoid contaminating the versions of events, were never debriefed by their superiors and told a union rep what happened just hours afterwards before investigators got to them. A week after the shooting, Lapointe refused to talk to SQ investigators as per protocol and invoked his right to silence, saying it was more important to speak to his lawyer first knowing he was likely a suspect in the affair.
The cross-examination is expected to last a few days.