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Mountie tells murder trial how he found wounded officer with back of head missing

SASKATOON - RCMP Cpl. Jason Teniuk was crouched in the bed of a police pickup truck as it sped through the dark down a bumpy dirt trail in search of two fellow Mounties who had been shot.

SASKATOON - RCMP Cpl. Jason Teniuk was crouched in the bed of a police pickup truck as it sped through the dark down a bumpy dirt trail in search of two fellow Mounties who had been shot.

He jumped out as soon as the vehicle stopped and, with the help of headlights, found Const. Marc Bourdages lying in the grass.

"I just kind of leaned over him, and he was gurgling. He had vomited, but I could tell he was still alive," Teniuk told a jury Thursday. "I looked all over him. I didn't see any holes in him. I didn't know how he was injured."

Teniuk testified he next grabbed Bourdages under the arms to carry him away.

"I could see that the back half of his head was missing."

The Saskatoon courtroom filled with sobs as the corporal testified, and two jury members put their hands to their faces, visibly upset.

Curt Dagenais is on trial charged with the first-degree murders of Bourdages and his partner, Const. Robin Cameron. Both officers died from gunshot blasts to the head.

Dagenais, 44, is also charged with the attempted murder of a third officer who was wounded by gunfire. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts.

Court has already heard details of what led up to the shooting on July 7, 2006.

After supper that night, Dagenais had an angry argument and shoved his sister outside their mother's house in the town of Spiritwood, Sask. Their parents were in the middle of a bitter divorce that had divided the family.

Both Dagenais and his sister went across the street to the local RCMP detachment to make complaints.

The sergeant in charge, Rob Clarke, testified he was working at a country music jamboree in Rabbit Lake when he got a call from Const. Michelle Knopp asking what to do about the family matter.

Clarke told her that since Dagenais was irate, she should let him go home to cool off, then interview him in the morning.

But Dagenais didn't go home. He drove back to his mother's house, parked out front and sat in his truck.

The three officers in the detachment - Knopp, Bourdages and Cameron - all drove over to the house. Cameron got out of one vehicle to talk to Dagenais through his window.

Witnesses have testified Dagenais started to drive away and hit Cameron with the side mirror of his truck. Using her baton, she shattered the side window.

Dagenais sped off and the officers followed. Bourdages and Cameron were in one vehicle, and Knopp in another.

Clarke, choking back tears, testified that he was notified of the pursuit on the radio.

"Circumstances changed when he tried running Const. Cameron over," he said.

During the 30-kilometre chase, Dagenais led police off the highway, into a field and down a series of back roads.

Clarke said he didn't call the chase off because the public wasn't in danger. Clarke resigned from the force last year when he was elected the Tory MP for in the northern riding of Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River.

Teniuk, a member of the nearby Shellbrook detachment, told court he was called in to help with the chase.

He testified that among the radio chatter he heard was talk of using spike belts and ramming.

"They didn't want the guy they were following to get to the house, because there were guns in the house," he said.

Court has already heard Dagenais's father owned a farm in the area where the pursuit was taking place.

Teniuk said he later heard on the radio that the chase had ended. Then he heard someone yell: "He's got a gun!"

He recognized Knopp's voice. She was screaming and crying, "saying she had been shot and Robin and Marc had been shot," said Teniuk.

"I was in shock."

He said he didn't know how to find the remote location, so Knopp told him she would drive back to a grid road. Minutes later, Teniuk found her vehicle parked on the road, with two bullet holes in its windshield.

"I could hear somebody crying inside the truck," said Teniuk.

When he opened the door, Knopp was hysterical. "I said, 'Michelle, are you OK?' And she's fighting with me, pushing me away."

Teniuk managed to carry the officer to his car, then started driving back to the highway.

He said Knopp screamed: "Robin and Marc have been shot! We have to go back and save them."

He told her they had no choice. "I just wanted to get out of there, because I didn't know where the shooter was."

Teniuk testified an ambulance was waiting for them at the highway. Knopp had bullet fragments embedded in her ear, arm and torso.

Soon after, a swarm of police vehicles met them. Within an hour, a decision was made to retrieve the bodies of Bourdages and Cameron.

Knopp had already told others the pair were "10-35," the RCMP radio call for "dead."

A dozen officers piled into three trucks. Teniuk said his assigned mission was to find Bourdages, while another retrieved Cameron and others protected them for possible gunfire.

Teniuk said he lifted Bourdages into the back of one truck, then held onto him during the bumpy ride back.

"It was a hellish ride. We're bouncing all over the place," said Teniuk. "I'm trying to comfort him. I'm sitting with him on me and he's bleeding heavy, but I can tell he's still alive."

Bourdages and Cameron were rushed to hospital, where they died nine days later.

The trial is scheduled to last two more weeks.

 
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