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Thomas Park of Corner Brook reflects on the past year since his friend was killed by police

This undated photo shows Jorden Mckay, left, and Thomas Park hanging out together. CONTRIBUTED
This undated photo shows Jorden Mckay, left, and Thomas Park hanging out together. CONTRIBUTED - Contributed
CORNER BROOK, N.L. —

DIANE CROCKER
THE WESTERN STAR

CORNER BROOK, N.L. —  A month apart in age, Thomas Park and Jorden Mckay grew up three doors from each other in Dunfield Park in Corner Brook.

Out of his jacket pocket, Park takes a photograph showing the two of them riding bikes many years ago on the street where Park’s grandmother and Mckay’s mother still live.

Park spoke with The Western Star about his best friend Wednesday, the first anniversary of his death.

This photo of Thomas Park, right, and Jorden Mckay riding bicycles together as children is something Park has to remember his best friend. Mckay was shot and killed at his Corner Brook home by an RNC officer on Nov. 27, 2018. CONTRIBUTED
This photo of Thomas Park, right, and Jorden Mckay riding bicycles together as children is something Park has to remember his best friend. Mckay was shot and killed at his Corner Brook home by an RNC officer on Nov. 27, 2018. CONTRIBUTED

Mckay was shot and killed in his home on Carriage Lane on Nov. 27, 2018 by a Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer.

RELATED: One year later, Corner Brook family still waiting for answers about RNC shooting death of loved one

Park was one of the last people to see him alive.

The two friends went to school together, partied together and had crushes on the same girls growing up. As boys would, they’d fight and quickly make up.

His friend was an up-tempo person with lots of energy.

“No back doors with him,” said Park.

“No fake love, or fake friendships. He was there for you. I was there for him.”

Park knew his friend had occasional issues with the law, but never once considered him a threat.

“He was a polite person.”

He rode the public transit and had been living in his apartment for some time without any issues.

Mckay, said Park, was often the level-headed one in the friendship. He encouraged Park to be careful, like not parking in a disabled parking spot, and to let things go when frustrated — like showing road rage when cut off in traffic. They were things Mckay said could draw attention from the police. 

“Today was the day that he lost his life,” Park said as the conversation turned to Nov. 27 a year ago.

Thomas Park sat down with The Western Star in Corner Brook to talk about the anniversary of the death of his friend Jorden Mckay, who was shot and killed by an RNC officer Nov. 27, 2018. DIANE CROCKER/THE WESTERN STAR
Thomas Park sat down with The Western Star in Corner Brook to talk about the anniversary of the death of his friend Jorden Mckay, who was shot and killed by an RNC officer Nov. 27, 2018. DIANE CROCKER/THE WESTERN STAR

Park was getting ready to go to Toronto to see the Maple Leafs and Raptors play. Driving down Sunnyslope Drive, he saw the familiar strut of his friend, stopped and picked him up.

“It was a beautiful sunny day," recalled Park.

They spent some time together and then Park drove Mckay to the Advanced Education and Skills building on Union Street.

Mckay told his friend he was having a hard time finding work with a criminal record and wanted to look into applying for school, to get his high school diploma.

When they got there, Mckay told Park he’d be sure to PVR the Raptors game and watch it, and he’d see Park when he got back.

It was around 1 p.m.

“He gave me a little handshake through the doorway there, and he went into that Advanced Education and Skills building and that was the last time I ever saw him.

“Last time I saw him living.” 

Park said his friend was happy-go-lucky that day.

About 12 hours later, Park got on a plane to Toronto.

When it landed at Pearson Airport and travellers turned on their cellphones, his stepdad saw the news of a death in his neighbourhood.

As they read news reports of a 27-year-old man being shot by police, Park recalled getting a little hysterical on the plane, realizing Mckay lived in that same neighbourhood.

His stepdad calmed him down. Once off the plane, he called his mother, Patricia, who later drove to Mckay’s home where she voiced her upset at his death.

Mckay was in good spirits when he last saw him, not talking about harming himself or anyone else — or the police, said Park.

And that is what he told the Ontario Provincial Police last year. The OPP’s investigation into the shooting is ongoing and once complete will be subject to an independent, external review by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team.

For now, what happened after the RNC officers showed up at Mckay's home, in response to the criminal complaint, is a mystery to those outside the ongoing investigation. 

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him” - Thomas Park

But that doesn’t stop his friend from wondering what happened. Why couldn’t it have been handled differently? Why did his friend have to be shot?

“I know, if he knew he did wrong, he wouldn’t be resisting,” he said. 

“He knew authority.”

And he’s confident Mckay did not have a firearm.

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him,” he said.

He considers seeing him that last day as a gift.

Park said there have been times that he’s felt his friend with him, even right after his death. 

The hotel he stayed in while in Toronto was the Chelsea Hotel. Chelsea is the name of one of Mckay’s nieces.

And his beloved Raptors won the game he went to see and went on to win the NBA Championship.

Park has a necklace containing some of his friend’s ashes. He doesn’t wear it every day, but felt he had to on the sad anniversary.

His eyes fill up and his voice falters when asked what the past year has been like.

“Rough,” is all he could manage to say.

He misses the most his friend's phone calls and text messages. And his energy.

“Jorden was a real friend.”

diane.crocker@thewesternstar.com
Twitter: WS_DianeCrocker
 

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