An Prince George RCMP officer labeled his attempt to deliver Greg Matters into police hands a failure when testifying Wednesday at the coroner's inquest in to the Canadian military veteran's death.
A member of an RCMP emergency response team fatally shot Matters on the evening of Sept. 10, 2012 after an effort to apprehend him escalated into a standoff on the family farm in Pineview.
Matters, who suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome, was wanted by police for running his brother, Trevor, off the road during the early morning hours of the previous day.
Insp. Brad Anderson had a series of phone conversations with Matters and his mother over about a day-and-a-half leading up to his death outside a cabin on the Pinko Road property.
Lawyer Cameron Ward, who is representing Matters' mother and sister at the inquest, asked Anderson Wednesday if he thought the operation to apprehend the ex-soldier was a success.
"My piece of this was talking Greg Matters off that property, that didn't happen, therefore for me, no," Anderson said.
Anderson had just finished telling the inquest he "relied too heavily" on the hope that Matters' mother, Lorraine, would help to bring her son into police custody and had left Prince George RCMP officers assigned to keep an eye on the property too long without enough backup considering threat the ex-soldier posed.
At about 4 p.m. on the day of Matters' death the decision was made to send in the emergency response team. Matters died a more than three hours later.
Asked later by a jury member about attempts to bring in Matters' psychiatrist, Dr. Greg Passey, to help police out, Anderson said he originally thought his mother was the best bet, based largely on dealings he had with her in 2010 when her son was facing a charge of uttering threats.
But when Matters told Anderson the veteran's mother didn't speak for him, "that was a game changer," Anderson said, adding Lorraine was also becoming less cooperative.
When the decision was made to bring in the emergency response team, police also began tracking down Passey. Another RCMP member, Cpl. Claudette Garcia, did manage to reach Passey by phone and he provided some advice on dealing with Matters but by that time it looked as if he was going to surrender himself.
Moments later, Matters changed tack and was fatally shot in a confrontation with RCMP.
Ward also pressed Anderson over his decision to be less than upfront about the possibility of a neighbour, Valerie Pinko, delivering him to the Prince George RCMP detachment, noting Anderson chose not lie when Matters demanded his brother be arrested and charged before he gave himself.
In the last phone conversation Anderson was to have with him, Matters said he had just arranged to have Pinko pick him up. Anderson used the prospect of a pick up to coax the ex-soldier out of the cabin where he had holed up and get Matters to walk his way into RCMP hands.
Anderson said he was concerned that if he lied and Matters somehow discovered no charges against his brother would be pursued, "Greg would never talk to me again."
Given Matters had been effectively duped by the supposed pick-up by a neighbour, Ward suggested Anderson would have lost his trust anyway. Anderson disagreed, saying Matters' brother was the "core" issue" and noted he never directly promised Matters he would be allowed to get into the neighbour's vehicle, simply avoiding the subject when it came up when talking to him on the phone.
"I'm trying to get this guy out safely and peacefully and I going to do whatever I can to make that happen but I think at this point in time I think I know what's making him tick a little bit in regards to what his main issue was and that was with Trevor," Anderson said.
The inquest also heard from Garcia that she had trouble finding Passey. She left a message on his work number and called back again a few minutes later. She tried other avenues, and shortly after leaving Passey's particulars with the Vancouver Police Department he called her back at 6:42 p.m.
"We wasted no time getting down to what was going on, Dr. Passey gave me the information I needed to hear," Garcia said.
Passey told her to "try to tone it down and make it rational" and to tell Matters police wanted to hear his side of the story regarding the confrontation with his brother.
At 6:56 p.m. the conversation ended and Garcia passed on Passey's advice to her colleagues as Anderson continued to talk to Matter over the phone. RCMP would likely have taken Passey up on his offer to fly up from Vancouver to further help out but it soon appeared Matters was ready to give himself up.
However, 20 minutes later, Matters was dead.
The inquest continues today at the Prince George courthouse, 9 a.m. start.