ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – The daughter of a Newfoundland man shot by a police officer spoke through tears Monday as she described her late father as a funny, vocal man with a big heart who lovingly raised her alone.
“He was a really good father,” said Meghan Dunphy of her father Don, wiping her eyes and pausing to collect herself. “I didn’t want for anything.”
The 28-year-old Eastern Health worker was the first witness at a public inquiry into why Don Dunphy was fatally shot by a Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer on Easter Sunday of 2015.
Const. Joe Smyth served as a member of then-premier Paul Davis’s security detail.
Smyth has said Dunphy aimed a loaded .22-calibre rifle at him before he fired four shots, three of them fatal, at Dunphy’s home in Mitchell’s Brook, 80 kilometres southwest of St. John’s.
Smyth had gone alone to the small house to check out Twitter comments flagged as potential threats against politicians.
Smyth sat listening in the public gallery as Meghan Dunphy described how her father raised her alone from the age of three after her mother died of diabetic complications.
Her father was in chronic pain since being crushed by heavy machinery on a construction site in 1984.
Meghan Dunphy told the inquiry that her father did not have mental health issues. She said he had struggled for years with the workers’ compensation system and his house was rundown because he lived in poverty.
“It was through no fault of his own, really,” she said.
As she spoke, the rifle later found loaded beside her father’s body sat on an exhibit stand next to her.
Meghan Dunphy said she had seen a rifle like it behind her father’s couch, but could not say for sure it’s the same one.
She could not recall speaking in any detail about why he had it.
“I wouldn’t know if it was loaded. I don’t know anything about guns.”
She also said she never saw ammunition in the house before her father died.
There was also a wooden stick about a metre long with duct tape on the end of it. Meghan Dunphy said her father kept it in case someone broke into the house.
The inquiry led by commissioner Leo Barry, a judge on the provincial Court of Appeal, is expected to hear from more than 50 witnesses until early March.
Barry is to deliver a report by July 1 on what happened and how to prevent such confrontations in the future.
He will not make findings of criminal or civil responsibility, but any new evidence could be investigated by police.