An RCMP officer takes photos of a pickup truck after it collided with unmarked police vehicles just off School Draw Avenue on January 23, 2019. James O’Connor/Cabin Radio
Attempting to flee from police, a Yellowknife man threatened officers with bottles in a liquor store, nearly ran down a plain-clothes officer, and rammed a truck into an apartment block when finally surrounded.
Sentencing 39-year-old Garry Taylor last month, Territorial Court Judge Donovan Molloy told him: “The dangers you created to officers and the public at large are unacceptable.”
Taylor received a three-year sentence for his crimes.
“We ask [police officers] to keep society safe. They are in harm’s way enough as it is. [You try to escape] because you want to do some more drugs? That is absolutely unacceptable,” said the judge.
In September, Taylor was found guilty of assaulting a peace officer with a weapon, driving while disqualified, dangerous operation of a vehicle, and failure to comply with an earlier undertaking.
That followed a January 18, 2019 incident which saw Taylor drive at a plain-clothes officer who had confronted him outside the Crestview Manor apartments on Yellowknife’s 52 Avenue. Taylor was wanted at the time for a separate, November 2018 incident involving a fight with officers.
Finding himself face-to-face with Taylor in January, the officer recalled holding up a hand, displaying his badge and yelling “police!” at the vehicle – which did not stop.
The officer pulled his gun but had to jump onto the vehicle’s hood to avoid being hit. He hit the windshield with the butt of his weapon, gripping a windshield wiper with his other hand. The officer fell off the hood shortly thereafter, but did not suffer serious injury.
Taylor and his female passenger sped off.
Molloy told the court the officer thought he was going to die during the incident, which had been described as “a movie scene” in an earlier court appearance.
Series of run-ins
Later, on the night of January 19, a police officer on a foot patrol near Yellowknife’s downtown liquor store spotted Taylor entering the premises. With a warrant out for his arrest, the officer entered and confronted Taylor, who pulled away and ran to the back of the store.
The court heard Taylor brandished a bottle of wine in each hand to fend off the officer as he ran between aisles. Another officer attempted to use a Taser on Taylor, but it was unable to penetrate his winter clothing.
As he trashed the liquor store, Taylor managed to flee through a rear door and evade capture.
Garry Taylor is pictured in an undated RCMP handout image.
Four days later, on January 23, police again spotted Taylor – this time in the back seat of a pickup truck at the rear of Ciara Manor, on School Draw Avenue and 44 Street.
As they approached the truck with emergency lights activated, Taylor crawled into the driver’s seat and drove back and forth, ramming into police vehicles and the side of the large apartment block.
He was eventually arrested with the help of a police dog. Officers said they found three crack pipes in the truck.
Speaking at the first part of the sentencing hearing, in early December, Taylor said he had “cleared his head” while in jail and started a recovery program.
“I’m sorry for people that were harmed during all the chaos I created,” he said. “I am remorseful.”
Molloy asked Taylor why he was fleeing from police; just “to go and do more drugs and drinking?”
Taylor said “no” when Molloy asked him if he wanted police to kill him when he was deep into drugs and fighting with officers.
“You could have been at your funeral,” said Molloy. “This type of thing … if you don’t change, you are going to end up being shot by police.”
Defence lawyer Stephanie Whitecloud-Brass told the court Taylor is of Indigenous ancestry and lived in a succession of foster and group homes as a child and youth.
The court heard Taylor was sexually abused by one of his foster parents.
He has a Grade 12 education and has worked as a landscaper, carpenter, and was at one point a supervisor at the Ekati diamond mine. However, that good money allowed Taylor to indulge in addictions he had been fighting since the age of 20, including the use of drugs like fentanyl, heroin, and crack cocaine.
Molloy somewhat reluctantly accepted a joint submission of three years as a global sentence for all of Taylor’s crimes – many of which took place while he was on bail and prohibited from driving.
With pre-trial credit, Taylor has about 20 months left to serve.
He will be on probation for two years after release, banned from using firearms for five years, barred from living with anyone with a prior drug-related conviction, and must abstain from illegal drugs.
The judge imposed 120 hours of community service work on Taylor, who will have to take counselling as recommended by his probation officer. He will be forbidden from occupying the driver’s seat of any vehicle while on probation.
Taylor will have to pay $25,000 in restitution to Midwest Property Management and $1,029 to RCMP for vehicle damage.
“This is extra incentive for you to stop using drugs,” said Molloy. “Three years might seem like a lot, but it could have been more.
“If you don’t stop this with police, you’ll go from a young man to an old man in jail.”