A Saskatchewan family mourns the loss of Ryan Booker, who was fatally shot by a police officer near Belle Plaine, Sask, on Sunday.
“It can’t get any harder than this, so we’re all here to support each other,” Booker’s father, Barry Nosal, said Monday.
Nosal described his son as nice – the type of person who would give others their shirt off his back.
“He was a good boy. I loved him. Everyone who knew him loved him, and we all make mistakes. He made a mistake. I just don’t know if this mistake was supposed to end the way he did,” said Nosal.
Booker died on Highway 1, about six hours after police first contacted him.
Police received a call at 1:10 a.m. CST that Booker allegedly made threats in his car in Moose Jaw. Police said Booker left that location, down Highway 1 and stopped near Belle Plaine, about 25 miles west of Regina.
Police claimed that Booker pointed his gun at officers at around 7am CST and said they shot him when he failed to comply.
Nosal wished he had more information about what happened in the moments before that shot.
“If he was carrying his gun on his shoulders, maybe they should, but… [it’s] It’s pretty hard to carry a gun in a Toyota Camry,” said Nosal. “I’m just curious what it was justifiable to take the shot before giving myself a chance to maybe talk him down.”
Nosal said he tried to reach his son in the hours before his death, drove on Highway 1 to Belle Plaine and identified himself to police as Booker’s father and gave his number.
He said they told him to park in town and wait. He grabbed a cup of coffee at the gas station and waited about two hours.
The police have not called. When they finally came to talk to him, it was to tell him that his son had passed away.
“Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think they’d give me a chance to talk to him,” Nosal said for a moment, taking a moment to think. He said the tragic event that unfolded was atypical of his son’s usual behavior.
“I just want to make it clear that it wasn’t him. This definitely wasn’t him, he was a nice guy. He was a nice guy and he had a bad night.”
Nosal said his son was a loving sibling, partner and father who had many friends, was happy and was a “rockstar” mechanic who excelled at his job. He said Booker was his hunting partner. He was someone who loved the outdoors and would walk for miles in search of deer.
Booker would have turned 27 on December 17. Nosal said his son may have been struggling with mental illness.
“He told his mother that he felt worthless. I didn’t know he was there, but I could have helped him. I think if I had had the chance to intervene, I could have helped him.”
Regina SWAT and the RCMP Critical Incident Response Team were called to the scene, where RCMP says crisis negotiators tried to verbally de-escalate the situation. The incident will be investigated by the Saskatoon Police Department as the officers were not involved.
The tragedy has left Nosal with countless questions.
“There are all kinds of things going through my mind right now and I don’t want to blame anyone, and I’m sure the officer isn’t feeling very good about himself right now, but I’m the one who has the loss.”
He said police had told him a drone had been used during the incident and wondered if part of the incident was captured on video.
Nosal said he hopes the outside investigation reveals why he was not summoned in some way to de-escalate the situation and why the police fired the shot.