» Editor’s Note: This story contains language that may offend some readers.
Further details have come to light in the strange tale of how a police officer’s stolen handgun came to be in a “drug house” where it was accidentally fired — leaving a bullet lodged in a woman’s buttocks.
Nearly four months after the shooting, the slug apparently remains in the woman’s rear.
“I will note that (the victim) has been unco-operative, both with police and medical staff, and the bullet is still within her body,” Crown attorney Grant Hughes told court during sentencing for the clumsy shooter. “She wouldn’t allow the medical staff to remove it.”
Justin Marshall Lockyer, 29, pleaded guilty to careless use of a restricted firearm.
He also pleaded guilty to possession of the stolen restricted gun, possession of a restricted firearm and ammunition without a licence, and breach of an undertaking for failing to abstain from alcohol and drugs.
But the story begins prior to Lockyer’s admitted involvement in the odd series of events.
On Jan. 12, the Brandon Police Service received a call from RM of Whitehead Chief Const. Doug Gormley, who reported that his police truck had been stolen from behind his home where he’d parked it overnight.
Police found the truck the same day that Gormley reported it stolen. But property — most notably a .22-calibre Smith and Wesson six-shot revolver — was missing from inside.
Gormley told the Brandon Sun that the gun — which was his own and not a police firearm — was locked in a case inside the truck. Ammunition for the gun was also in the truck, he said.
During Lockyer’s sentencing this week, Hughes and defence lawyer Philip Sieklicki delivered the following account of what happened next.
On the evening of Jan. 29, city police were called by a resident on the 600-block of 22nd Street who reported that his neighbour had been assaulted.
Hughes said that Lockyer, another man and his girlfriend lived at the home where the assault was said to have taken place.
Police arrived within minutes and met a woman who said her roommate, Lockyer, had assaulted her. She had a swollen and bleeding lip.
Police found Lockyer at the home and he was arrested because he was in breach of an order by being intoxicated.
Lockyer admitted he and the woman were in a fight, but he’d only elbowed her (assault charges against Lockyer were later dropped).
On the way to the Brandon jail, he told a police officer: “Why don’t you fucking cops do your job and find that missing gun?”
“Which one?” the surprised officer asked.
“That Smith and Wesson that was stolen … that .22-calibre six-shooter that was stolen from the police vehicle,” Lockyer said.
The officer didn’t know what Lockyer was talking about, and the arrestee was lodged at the jail overnight, solely for breach of undertaking at that point.
Meanwhile, the woman said to have been assaulted told police she didn’t want medical attention, or to press charges. She was intoxicated and just wanted to go to bed, and she went into Lockyer’s room to do so.
A few hours later, police got a call from the woman’s boyfriend who said he’d returned home from work to find blood on his girlfriend’s face. She was in pain and complained of being shot.
Police went back to the home and met with the couple. The woman, still intoxicated, was still in Lockyer’s bed and complained of pain in her buttocks or back.
There was a bullet casing on the floor and blood in the bed.
The woman appeared to have a puncture wound, but wouldn’t give police any more details as she didn’t want to get Lockyer into trouble. She told police she considered him a boyfriend, Hughes said.
She was taken to hospital where an X-ray confirmed that an object — which appeared to be a bullet — was lodged in her buttocks. She told police that she’d consumed prescription medication and alcohol and didn’t remember much, including being shot.
Police then went back to the jail and asked staff there to check Lockyer’s seized clothing. In his pants pocket, they found four .22-calibre bullets.
Lockyer told police that the shooting was an accident.
“He was living at the house where this had taken place,” Sieklicki said. “He says that the gun had been in his room, there were a number of individuals going through his room, that it was very much a drug house, and he ended up finding this gun.”
Lockyer, who was drunk and had taken medication, was playing with the gun when it went off.
The bullet went through a wall and into the bathroom, where it struck the victim in the buttocks as she stood at the sink.
Oddly, Lockyer then reloaded the gun, which was later found by police and discovered to be the pistol stolen from Gormley’s police vehicle.
For an unrelated matter, in which Lockyer was caught in a stolen pickup truck on Oct. 30, he also pleaded guilty to possession of property obtained by crime.
He was caught in that truck with the woman he accidentally shot three months later.
Judge Donovan Dvorak sentenced Lockyer to a total of 24 months in jail, minus five-and-a-half months remand time. After jail he’ll be on probation for two years.
Meanwhile, the case has been referred to Crown attorneys to consider whether charges will be laid in relation to the use, storage, and the loss of the handgun as a result of the police vehicle being stolen.
It would be the BPS that would lay any charges if they’re warranted, and on Friday the force indicated that it still awaits the Crown attorneys’ decision, which is expected soon.
Provincial justice officials confirmed on Feb. 7 that Gormley, the only member of the RM of Whitehead police service, had been suspended.
RCMP are now the sole agency that provides policing in the RM. Mounties were already handling criminal and federal offences. Gormley’s duties had consisted of bylaw and traffic infractions.
Messages were left on Friday with RM of Whitehead officials in an effort to determine Gormley’s current status, but they weren’t returned.
» Twitter: @IanHitchen
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 24, 2014