December 19, 2014 - 2:25 PM
KELOWNA – Michael Ellis, accused ringleader of a 2012 high speed shootout with police, was just doing what he was told.
At least that’s what his only defence witness says. Shawn Wysynski, who is also a lifelong friend of Ellis, told Kelowna Supreme Court Justice Ian Josephson that the only reason his friends were involved in the chase at all that day was because he threatened them with a gun.
Wysynski, 34, is already serving nine years for using a loaded gun to carjack one motorist and attempting to carjack another in order to evade police that day and his testimony cannot be held against him.
"I said if any of you fucking guys think you’re going to leave, try outrunning a bullet,” Wysynski says he told them when he saw an unmarked police vehicle outside a McDonald’s restaurant in West Kelowna.
He also told the court the three of them were together that day to collect on a large drug debt owed to him by a man in West Kelowna. That’s why he brought three guns. Ellis, he says, was only the driver.
He says he told Ellis “If he (the police) pulls in behind us you need to drive like a maniac because we need to get rid of this bag.”
The resulting chase started on Boucherie Road but moved onto Westside Road, where Wysynski says he fired at police numerous times. He also admits he hijacked one vehicle, tried to hijack two more and forced Ellis to ram other vehicles off the road. After a 60-kilometre chase that put many lives in danger, they were eventually stopped north of Vernon and arrested.
The evidence this week is in stark contrast to the Crown's case. Crown lawyer Murray Kaay called Ellis the ringleader and charged him with 22 counts ranging from attempted robbery to attempted murder. Ellis has nearly 80 prior convictions. Wysynski was only charged with armed robbery and was sentenced in October.
Joseph Elie, whose name had not even been mentioned before Monday, was apparently along as muscle but was able to jump from the moving vehicle shortly after Wysysnki first fired at police. He was never arrested or charged.
Ashley Collins, who was 18 and pregnant at the time, was shot during the chase and received a suspended sentence with 18 months’ probation.
Ellis has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Final submissions will be scheduled in January followed by a decision and sentencing.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-718-0428. To contact the editor, email email@example.com or call 250-718-2724.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014