KELOWNA – Michael Ellis, the man accused of shooting at police as he and two others tried to escape along Westside Road in 2012, was found not guilty of attempted murder but could still face a lengthy jail term after he was found guilty of more than a dozen other related charges.
Justice Ian Josephson said Friday that Ellis, 41, who has been on trial since September last year, played a role in shooting at several police officers but that his intent to kill, or even that he was the one who shot at police, was not established.
Ellis’s long-time friend and former co-accused Shawn Wysynski is currently serving nine years in federal prison for using a loaded gun to carjack one motorist and attempting to carjack another. In January, he testified he ordered Ellis at gunpoint to get away from police that day and was the one who shot at police.
“I reject completely the submission that Ellis was acting under duress,” Josephson said in his decision. “The only evidence supporting that theory comes from Mr. Wysynski, which I reject as entirely false and unreliable. Mr. Wysynski, after securing his position with his own sentence, was attempting to throw a float ring to Mr. Ellis, who was drowning in the sea of overwhelming evidence against him. That evidence… reveals that Mr. Ellis was a full and willing participant in this mad, misguided and extremely dangerous scheme to avoid detention by police.
“Mr. Ellis and Mr. Wysynski set out to terrorize innocent, uninvolved civilians at gun point and were willing to endanger the lives of police officers or anyone else whom they perceived as a risk, by discharging countless rounds of ammunition from a prohibited weapon at moving police and civilian vehicles from their own moving vehicle.
“While Mr. Ellis was aware that Mr. Wysynski was discharging a firearm through the rear window of the van he was driving to ward off police, a reasonable doubt arises that he knew the shooter’s intent was to kill.”
Josephson found Ellis not guilty of all attempted murder charges but he was found guilty of of unlawful discharge of a prohibited weapon, armed robbery, attempted robbery, pointing a weapon at a person, possessing prohibited firearms, being in a vehicle with prohibited firearms, operating a vehicle in a manner dangerous to the public, possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose and failing to stop for police.
Crown lawyer Murray Kaay asked that a dangerous offender report be prepared by a psychiatrist, which if approved to go to a hearing could mean Ellis would be put in prison until deemed fit for release.
The next scheduled court date is March 23 when the report will go to a judge for decision whether or not a hearing is needed.
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