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Indian Head commander remembers slain officer Patton as future leader

[Ed. note: Out of an abundance of public interest, we are taking the uncommon step of posting this story to our website ahead of its publication in our June 17 edition. Please also note that the story appearing in print may differ from that posted here, as more information comes to light over the coming days. Const. Shelby Patton is seen above in this photo supplied by the RCMP.]

BRAD BROWN
The Forum

               Sgt. Ryan Case of the Indian Head RCMP detachment says he met Const. Shelby Patton for the first time at an accident scene in the Wolseley area. Years later, it’s also where he saw Patton for the last time.

               Case told The Forum on Sunday that he was the first police officer on scene Saturday morning after Patton, 26, had been run over by a truck following a traffic stop in town.

               According to an RCMP news release, Patton was struck while outside of his vehicle after pulling over a truck that had been stolen from Manitoba. Patton, who died at the scene, had been with the RCMP since early 2015 and had spent the entirety of his career at Indian Head detachment.

               “He was brand spanking new when I first met him out on the highway by Wolseley … in my previous job in Regina as a collision reconstructionist,” said Case, who joined the Indian Head detachment in 2016.

               “It was a real ugly scene and I can remember seeing him and afterward saying ‘man oh man, he is quiet, he doesn’t say a thing.’ Very meek, very mild, and you could tell he was very, very fresh. I asked who he was and, the other officers, they said ‘That’s our new guy’ and I said ‘Well he’s learning some things quickly.’”

               And learn he did, to the point where Case said Sunday that Patton’s future in the RCMP wouldn’t have been on the front lines anyway.

               “Essentially, if you needed to pick somebody that already existed to do that job, he was the guy to clone, however many you needed,” said Case. “He checked off all those boxes to what you needed. He was just so excellent at doing his job in all areas, be it the talent, be it the skill, the drive, teamwork, caring for people, and really yesterday it comes right down to showing exactly that. Because he was so good at his job, this is what happened.

               “I think about him from that day up to where he ended up, and it was just night and day. And it happens to everybody … you become much more confident in what you’re doing, and it just comes with experience, but developing from what he was before, he had a very bright future ahead of him. We always joked, and he downplayed it all the time, but we always joked that he was going to be moving up into higher echelons of the RCMP at some point in time and you could see the potential there already.”

               The suspects in Patton’s death were arrested later Saturday morning in a field east of Francis.

               “A tragedy such as this shakes our entire RCMP family to its core, coast to coast,” Rhonda Blackmore, commanding officer for the Saskatchewan RCMP, said at a news conference Saturday afternoon. “Although we wear a police uniform, we are regular people, going to our job each day, just as everyone else does. Today, Constable Patton will not come home from doing his job protecting the public.”

               Asked if he’d experienced anything similar in his 21-year policing career, Case echoed Blackmore’s sentiments.

               “No. Not even close,” said Case, whose assignments have also included assisting with the police response to the Humboldt Broncos bus crash north of Tisdale in 2018.

               He added that, while some officers from Indian Head and Montmartre detachments insisted on working their regular shifts, no one was being required to report for duty in the days following the accident and that any required coverage would be provided by neighbouring detachments throughout southeast Saskatchewan.

               “When something like this happens you cannot be more thankful for who you work for, because the services and supports that are in place for all people at all levels … it’s absolutely incredible,” said Case.

TIMELINE OF EVENTS

This timeline has been compiled from various updates provided by the RCMP in the 48 hours following Const. Shelby Patton’s death.

June 12, 7:04 a.m. — Indian Head RCMP received a complaint that a stolen pick-up truck from Manitoba had been spotted in Wolseley. The complaint was dispatched to Patton, who drove to the community to investigate the complaint.

June 12, 7:50 a.m. — Patton stopped the stolen pick-up truck on Sherbrooke Street in Wolseley, near the intersection with Front Street.

June 12, 7:56 a.m. — Indian Head RCMP received an urgent dispatch mentioning an RCMP officer had been struck by a vehicle and was in cardiac arrest. Members of the public were on scene and performed first aid until the arrival of EMS and police. Patton was declared deceased at the scene.

June 12, 8:38 a.m. — Odessa-area farmer Leonard Gaetz called 911 to report that occupants of a white pick-up truck had been on his property and stolen one of his trucks. Police responded and searched the area for the two stolen vehicles.

June 12, 10 a.m. (approximate) — RCMP members arrested the two suspects in Patton’s death in a farmer’s field east of Francis.

June 14, 9:30 a.m. — The accused were scheduled to appear in Regina Provincial Court to face multiple charges, including one count each of manslaughter.