Judge Hugh Fraser accused an Ontario Provincial Police officer of “concocting” excuses and found him guilty of negligence causing death in the shooting of a Chippewa protester in 1995.

Dudley George, 30, was killed by a machine gun bullet during an assault by 50 OPP riot-squad and tactical-unit officers on a peaceful group of Native protesters at Ipperwash Provincial Park on Sept. 6, 1995.

Witnesses reported that some of the police had been drinking before the assault. Fighting broke out between the two sides after police severely beat a Native Band Council member.

When police started firing, they also shot and wounded a 15-year-old Chippewa.

Acting Sgt. Kenneth Deane, charged with shooting George, claimed that George had a gun and fired first. But this was contradicted by another officer who said George was merely carrying a stick or pole. OPP and Native witnesses testified that police had given the protesters no warning before they attacked, and no order to clear out of the way.

Judge Fraser rejected Deane’s story. “I find that… George did not have any firearm on his person. The story of his rifle and the muzzle flash were concocted after the fact in an ill-fated attempt to disguise the fact that an unarmed man was shot. I find you were not honest in offering this version of events.”

The protesters, among them children, had occupied which contained a sacred burial ground. Ottawa had seized land in the area from the Chippewa during World War II, but never returned it.

George’s family has launched a $7-million lawsuit against the Ontario government and police, but says it will drop the suit if the government launches a public inquiry into what happened.

Internal government documents obtained by reporters show the Ontario government ordered the OPP to clear protesters out of the park. Both the government and police had denied that any orders were given to police.

(With files from Native News Network of Canada)