KAMLOOPS – Seven years before he was accused of shooting Kamloops Mountie Cpl. Jean-René Michaud, Kenneth Michael Knutson, 36, found himself in a remarkably similar situation—pulled over by police and packing a loaded gun.
He was the passenger in a truck. With a gun tucked in his waistband, Knutson ran from the vehicle and police before ditching his weapon and cellphone in the snow. The gun, later recovered by a police dog, was found loaded and cocked with a round in the chamber and the safety off. The gun bore no serial number; it was filed off. When he was arrested, he was carrying a large amount of cash and he was wearing soft body armour, according to a summary of his offences prepared for a Federal Parole Board Review.
"You clearly have an attitude of indifference toward potential violence as demonstrated by you placing yourself in a situation where you felt that it was necessary to wear armour," the report says.
The 15-page parole document outlines Knutson's history of violence, particularly toward police. He once burned a police officer’s forearm with a cigarette. In 2003, he was driving a stolen vehicle and when police tried to pull it over, he led them on a high speed chase that ended when he hit another vehicle, causing injuries to that driver.
In 2008, police again tried to stop his vehicle but he backed into the police car.
It's unclear if Cpl. Michaud knew Knutson was in the white sedan when he stopped it in the early morning hours of Dec. 3 before Knutson allegedly shot Michaud, who has been in hospital ever since.
After a 12-hour manhunt, Knutson was arrested in the Batchelor Heights neighbourhood. He is currently being held at the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre and faces several charges including attempted murder. None of the charges have been proven in court. He is due to make a video appearance in court for his bail hearing tomorrow, Jan. 29.
The parole board report suggests Knutson was a Lower Mainland drug dealer with alleged ties to criminal organizations and a history of violent behaviour towards people in positions of authority. He was serving a nearly five-year federal sentence for possessing a restricted firearm, possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and failure to stop at the scene of an accident.
In his assessment, Knutson was rated as a high risk to re-offend with a “particularly high risk to commit future weapons offences probably resulting in grave consequences given the reckless manner in which you handle weapons.”
“Your stressors are your long standing use of intoxicants, your financial and lifestyle needs which have been satisfied by the drug trade rather than legitimate employment, your negative attitude toward authority and your willingness to associate with like-minded criminals,” the report said.
Included in his psychological assessment, the report specifically mentions Knutson blaming his criminal convictions on police and associates.
While he has denied ties to any criminal organizations, under his statutory release the accused was ordered “not to associate with any person you know or have reason to believe is involved in criminal activity including Soldiers Incorporate, Red Scorpions and the Bacon brothers.”
During his time in federal prison, the report states the accused was verbally abusive towards corrections staff, was involved in several assaults of fellow inmates and was caught with a nine-inch sharpened weapon. Knutson was reported as not having completed treatment for his violent behaviour while incarcerated.
Since his arrest on Dec. 3, 2014, Knutson has received support from friends and family in the form of a Facebook group titled Free Kenneth Knutson. The group alleges the media coverage and information supplied to media by the RCMP is slanderous with members advocating for Knutson’s release.
“The media is twisting the story to what the police want you guys to hear. They have slandered (Knutson’s) name and they don’t care. They can do what they want and get away with it,” states a post on the page.
Michaud remains in recovery in a Vancouver hospital where he was transferred on Dec. 23. On Tuesday morning, the Kamloops RCMP released a statement from his wife to update the media on the officer’s status.
Cpl. Jean-René Michaud is still recovering in hospital.
Image Credit: Courtesy Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal (with permission)
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