By Michelle MacAfee, The Associated Press
MONTREAL (CP) -- Shoot or be shot. Kill or be killed. So he testified.
That's what Stephane Boucher says was racing through his mind on Feb.
28, 2002, when he fired at Const. Benoit L'Ecuyer from close range
during a foot chase on a busy Montreal highway.
Four, possibly five, bullets from Boucher's .357 Magnum hit L'Ecuyer,
killing him almost instantly.
Boucher testified at his first-degree murder trial on Tuesday he had
no choice but to shoot at L'Ecuyer after the 29-year-old officer
fired at him twice, grazing him on the hand.
"I was scared," Boucher, 26, said as he told jurors his version of
"Everything happened in a few seconds. Was I supposed to wait until
he fatally shot me before reacting?"
He deflected the suggestion that he could also have dropped the gun and
given up rather than shooting the officer.
Boucher told the jury, and a packed courtroom that included
L'Ecuyer's family, partner and Boucher's wife, he had been on his way
to rob a bank with two friends when things started to unravel.
Boucher, who was driving his wife's Infiniti, said he had been
scoping out another vehicle to steal and to use in the robbery when
L'Ecuyer and his partner drove by. Earlier testimony revealed the
officers had been setting up a radar trap when they decided to
conduct a routine inspection of Boucher's vehicle.
Boucher, who has a long record of armed robberies and weapons
offences, said he drove off because he had violated the terms of his
probation for his most recent conviction.
He also had a loaded gun he planned to use to "intimidate" people
during the bank robbery.
With L'Ecuyer close behind, Boucher ended up hitting a median and
lost a tire. L'Ecuyer's car pulled up to block him near a concrete
sound barrier and Boucher took off on foot.
"My intention was to cross the road as fast as possible, run into a
field and get rid of the gun," said Boucher.
But traffic prevented him from making an easy escape and he then
heard what sounded like a gunshot coming from behind him.
"When I got to the middle lane, I heard the same sound again but this
time I felt a burning in my hand."
Boucher said he kept running, pulled out his gun to protect himself,
turned with the gun raised and shot L'Ecuyer, who was holding his gun
at his side.
"I didn't want to die. It was a critical moment ... I had to protect
myself. He had a bulletproof vest and I had nothing."
Several eyewitnesses have testified for the Crown to recount what
they saw happen that late winter day.
One man testified he saw L'Ecuyer shoot Boucher twice, but assumed
they were warning shots because they missed Boucher less than 10
metres away. A delivery driver said he saw Boucher shoot L'Ecuyer a
total of four times. Former soldier Claude St-Jean testified he saw
Boucher, protected by the highway's central concrete median, take the
time to aim and shoot L'Ecuyer three times.
Boucher, a clean-cut man with boyish good looks, was dressed in grey
dress pants and a black cotton sweater. His ankles chained, he
sounded confident and calm throughout most of his testimony, his
voice rising only occasionally in response to a vigorous, fast-paced
cross-examination by prosecutor Normand Chenier.
"You never thought to throw down the gun and give yourself up?" asked
"If I did that I wouldn't be here today," Boucher shot back.
"Rather than give yourself up you chose to risk your life by crossing
the street?" asked Chenier.
"That's right," replied Boucher.
Boucher also told jurors about his actions following the shooting,
when he was on the run for several days.
In the hours after the shooting, Boucher said he got rid of his
clothes and had a shower to wash off any traces of gunpowder. He
dumped his gun in the river, but took another gun from a friend who
He stayed with a young couple for four days, but changed locations
for fear of being recognized.
Boucher, who had dyed his hair blonde as a disguise, said he would
have turned himself in but wanted the situation to "cool off" a bit
He was eventually arrested as he lay sleeping on a sofa in an
apartment near Montreal.
Boucher was the only defence witness in the case.
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Closing arguments are expected to begin Oct. 28.