A coroner's inquest heard contradictory testimony Tuesday into whether the mother of a man an RCMP emergency response team member shot and killed in a standoff last year was given permission to go see him in the cabin where he had holed up shortly before his death.
Greg Matters died at the scene on the family's Pineview farm on the evening of Sept. 10, 2011. Tjhe ex-soldier was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and had emerged from the cabin holding a hatchet, the inquest has heard.
Under cross examination from Attorney General and RCMP lawyer Andrew Kemp, Lorraine Matters stuck to testimony she gave Friday, when she first took the stand, that Prince George RCMP Staff Sergeant Brad Anderson had given her the go-ahead to see her son.
"I have to put this one point to you - I suggest to you that Anderson never gave you permission to walk over and see your son," Kemp said.
"I disagree," Matters replied.
On Friday, Matters said she called Anderson, since promoted to Inspector at the Prince George RCMP, to say she was going to walk from the home where she and her son had been living to the cabin, described as a "sanctuary" for her son.
"He said, 'OK,'" Matters said.
But because the field was plowed and she just had surgery on her foot, she decided to drive over instead. She was met by an ERT member at the end of the driveway and subsequently arrested following an altercation that left her with bruises to her ribs and a bruise mark on her chin, allegedly from where the Mountie had held an automatic rifle to her head.
"I kept telling him to call Staff Sergeant Anderson and he wouldn't," Lorraine Matters said.
On Tuesday, Anderson offered a different account.
The now inspector told the inquest that at 3:16 p.m., roughly four hours before the death, he called the home where Greg and Lorraine were living. Anderson had wanted to talk to Greg, but the ex-soldier had left for the cabin by then, and Lorraine answered the phone.
Anderson had been trying to talk Greg into surrendering through a series of phone calls over the course of about a day and a half. For various reasons, Greg and Lorraine would agree to drive to the Prince George RCMP detachment and then back away. While Lorraine seemed cooperative at some points, at others she argued over why police should be arresting her son, Anderson said.
"I felt at that time that Lorraine was not assisting with regards to getting Greg out, that actually she was adding fuel to the fire here with validating reasons why he shouldn't come out," Anderson said while reviewing a 13-page summary he began writing at the time of the incident and completed about two days later.
"I asked Lorraine to leave the property, I asked her to go - for everyone's safety she needed to leave. She stated she was not going to do that, she wasn't going to leave. She said she was going to go find Greg.
"I asked her again to leave the property. She again stated she was going to find Greg and that she had to go and the call ended."
Anderson gave instructions that Lorraine be brought back to the detachment, the inquest heard.
Anderson said he was later able to contact Greg on his mother's cellphone at 5:24 p.m. Greg was "extremely agitated," Anderson said, largely over his brother, Trevor, whose car Greg had run off the road early the previous morning, asserting Trevor had been doing "doughnuts" in the driveway of the family home.
"At one point in his call he's extremely angry," Anderson said. "He says 'I'm ready to die, I will give police a reason to kill me and I will grab a knife and give you probable cause to shoot me."
Anderson said he tried not to react to the statement and kept talking to him in a calm voice but, by 5:35 p.m., Greg had hung up.
However, at 6:45 p.m., Greg called back through the detachment's main line and sounded "completely calm" and further told police his neighbour Valerie Pinko had agreed to pick him up and drive him to the detachment.
Anderson said he offered to drive out to the scene himself to pick Greg up but was turned down.
The now inspector testified he decided to let Greg think Pinko would pick him up, but avoided making any promises that she would be allowed past the perimeter police had established. Anderson then advised Greg to come out slowly and calmly, with his jacket off, showing police he had nothing in his hands.
"I told him 'there are police officers out there who have guns, it's really important for you to listen to me, Greg,'" Anderson told the inquest. "[I told him that] everything will end peacefully here if you keep your hands up in the air and move down the driveway."
For a time, it sounded as if Greg was complying. Anderson told Greg he had made arrangements to call off the helicopter, asked him a couple times if he could see Pinko and when Greg said no, told him to keep walking. But then, said Anderson, Greg "suddenly states he's going back to the shack away from the road. He states he wants the helicopter gone and he wants to put his jacket back on."
The pair had some further conversation that at points touched how a previous encounter with police back east triggered Greg's PTSD and how Greg was going to continue therapy with his psychiatrist.
Greg asked if he was going to spend the night in jail and Anderson replied he was not going to lie and was not sure.
Anderson testified Greg sounded calm and seemed as if he was walking back to the cabin. Greg then became "instantly angry", Anderson said, because the lock on the driveway gate had been broken.
"He says 'The cocksuckers broke the gate' and he tells me he's going to confront them," Anderson said. "I asked who he was going to confront, he hangs up the phone."
Matters was shot shortly afterwards.
Anderson, who has been an RCMP member for 25 years, said he had no formal training as a negotiator but because he had already established a rapport with Greg over the phone calls, the members with specific training asked that he continue to do the talking.
Police had been working to secure warrants to seize evidence from the property but Anderson said police did not need a warrant to arrest Greg, saying they had "reasonable and probable grounds" to arrest him on charges of assault with a weapon and dangerous driving for running his brother off the road during the early morning of the previous day.
Anderson said there were "exigent circumstances," namely threats by Greg to shoot anyone who stepped on his property and concern he would go after his brother once again that gave police reason to apprehend him promptly.
Both Greg and his mother had told police there were no firearms on the property - they had been given to a neighbour for safekeeping after Greg was charged with uttering threats in 2010 - but Anderson said he was not going to take their word for it as a matter of police safety.
He also noted Greg's military training and intelligence and claimed that he was "in shape" and later told the inquest he did not know Matters had a chronically bad back and would sometimes need a cane to move around. Anderson said Matters told him he was going to get a gun at one point.
The inquest continues today at the Prince George courthouse, 9 a.m. start.