April 18th, 2024

Jury in Saskatchewan mass killer inquest makes recommendations to improve arrests

By Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press on February 29, 2024.

Vanessa Burns, who had been in a domestic partnership with Myles Sanderson for 14 years, speaks to media during an afternoon break at the inquest into the apprehension and death of Myles Sanderson, who killed 11 people and injured 17 others on James Smith Cree Nation and the nearby community of Weldon in September 2022, held at a hotel conference room in Saskatoon, Wednesday, February 28, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards

SASKATOON – Jurors at a coroner’s inquest into the in-custody death of a mass killer in Saskatchewan have issued four recommendations for police to improve arrests.

After a few hours of deliberations Thursday, they said the RCMP should have mandatory enhanced driver training and there should be more training for extraction techniques during takedowns.

They also said Mounties should review their criteria for high-speed chases, and Saskatoon police should establish a dedicated team to arrest people with outstanding warrants.

The jurors heard four days of testimony about the capture of Myles Sanderson.

Sanderson had been on the run for several days after he stabbed and killed 11 people and wounded 17 others on the James Smith Cree Nation and in the nearby village of Weldon.

The inquest saw video from RCMP dashboard cameras of a high-speed police pursuit that ended with a stolen truck Sanderson was driving going into a ditch on a highway north of Saskatoon.

Officers descended on the truck, and Sanderson was pulled out. He then began to have seizures and was taken to hospital, where he died.

A forensic pathologist testified Sanderson overdosed on cocaine.

The jurors determined the overdose was accidental.

Earlier Thursday, Matt Logan, a criminal investigative psychologist, testified Sanderson didn’t intend to die.

Logan said Sanderson was still on a mission after the massacre. His goal was to harm the mother of his children, Vanessa Burns.

“He didn’t really care one way or another if he lived or died,” said Logan, who is also a former RCMP officer.

Sanderson had gone door to door stabbing people on the James Smith Cree Nation and in the nearby village of Weldon, northeast of Saskatoon.

The psychologist said Sanderson and his brother, Damien Sanderson, talked with people about being on a mission before the rampage began.

Myles Sanderson first killed his brother. He then targeted his victims because of a perceived grievance, an association with a gang or because they just got in his way, Logan said.

The final target was to be his common-law partner, Logan said.

“Our observation is Sanderson had not completed his mission.”

The inquest heard Logan reviewed Sanderson’s court records, visited the First Nation and spoke with family members. But he didn’t meet Sanderson, and nobody can be certain what the killer was thinking before he died.

Logan said after Sanderson had been on the run for days, he pumped himself up with cocaine and went to track down his partner.

He broke into a house and stole a truck but didn’t physically harm the homeowner because she wasn’t a target, Logan said. That’s also why Sanderson didn’t harm another man, whom he tried to pay $250 for a ride to Saskatoon, the psychologist added.

As Sanderson was being arrested, he asked officers how many people he had killed and why they didn’t shoot him.

Sanderson was smug and arrogant, Const. Bill Rowley testified Wednesday.

That matches with Sanderson’s personality, said Logan, adding the killer had many psychopathic traits.

Logan said, in his opinion, Sanderson took more cocaine when the truck crashed because he thought, “Why waste good cocaine?”

“If he wanted to die – go out in a blaze of glory – he would have done it in another way,” Logan said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 29, 2024.

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