July 14th, 2024

Accused testifies at conclusion of manslaughter trial

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on January 26, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

Cullen Drake Tailfeathers was humiliated, angry and hurt when he arrived at his girlfriend’s house in Fort Macleod during the early morning hours of May 24, 2021. The two had been arguing and their relationship was collapsing.

Tailfeathers knocked on the door and waited for Chantelle English to open it, then asked for some of his belongings and walked calmly downstairs to gather other items. As he reached the bottom of the stairs, Linden Blair Grier walked out of the bathroom, approached him aggressively and raised his hands as if to fight. Then Tailfeathers hit him in the head and the two began trading blows.

That was Tailfeathers’ evidence Thursday in Lethbridge court of justice, where he is on trial for manslaughter. That evidence, however, contradicts the testimony of English, who provided her evidence at the start of the trial Monday and said the fight was one-sided, and only ended when Grier was knocked unconscious. He died while lying on English’s lap in the bathroom, she told court earlier.

Tailfeathers evidence supported much of that shared by English on Monday. Although the couple had been planning to move into a new apartment in Lethbridge, their relationship was on the rocks and they had been exchanging angry and hurtful text messages during the night of May 23 and early morning of May 24.

English, in particular, had sent several texts solely intended to hurt Tailfeathers, and she had posted on Snapchat a picture of her and a shirtless Grier drinking together that night. Tailfeathers told court he and English no longer trusted each other, and the photo of Grier was the last straw.

“It just disintegrated the relationship,” Tailfeathers testified.

He drove from Cardston to English’s apartment, and after English opened the door and he asked for his belongings he went downstairs and was met by Grier. Tailfeathers admitted he threw the first punch after they came face to face, then the two began to fight.

“He approached me like he wanted to fight,” Tailfeathers said.

The combatants then took turns hitting each other in the face and head, first Tailfeathers then Grier. Several blows later Tailfeathers hit Grier under the right ear, causing him to stumble back. When Grier recovered and appeared about to re-engage, Tailfeathers hit him again above his left eye.

“At this point he became unconscious and he fell back into the toilet.”

Tailfeathers said he didn’t want to fight and was only hitting Grier to “get him off me.” He added Grier was breathing when he left the home moments later.

English’s version of events differed drastically. She told court Tailfeathers walked into the apartment and threw a set of keys at her before pushing past her to go downstairs.

“He was getting mad at me and he wanted to know who was there,” English said.

She said Tailfeathers was angry and he charged into the basement where he met Grier standing near the bottom of the stairs.

“He just started beating the sh-t out of him. He was punching him in the head multiple times, and I was yelling and screaming, trying to tell him to stop.”

English stood between the two men, but she couldn’t stop Tailfeathers, who is six-foot six inches tall, from reaching over her and punching Grier.

Tailfeathers said English followed him down the stairs, but she never stood between him and Grier and he never rained blows upon the much smaller man.

“I hit Linden because, when he approached me to start the fight, I was fearful. I did not want to engage with him.”

Tailfeathers said he went to English’s apartment to talk to her, return the keys to the Lethbridge apartment in which they planned to live, and pick up some belongings. And even though the Snapchat photo of English and Grier was obviously taken in the home, Tailfeathers said he didn’t know that Grier, or at least another man, was there at the time and did not go there to confront him.

However, Crown Prosecutor Clayton Giles referred to several text messages Tailfeathers sent English in which he said “I don’t want to go off my rocker and hurt someone” and “I will hurt him.” Then after the fight he texted and said, “well, I told you what I was going to do.”

Tailfeathers said he never intended to go after Grier, and only made those comments to try to get English to respond to his text messages.”

Tailfeathers was the only witness for the defence, and the Crown and defence concluded their respective cases Thursday. They are set to present their closing arguments today.

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pursuit diver

So it is okay because the other guy wanted to fight, so you engaged, right?
Not much of a defense statement!
Throughout the course of my duties I have had to deal with addicts who are aggressive and came at mem, punching me, kicking me and trying to throw me off balance, but not once did I strike back with offensive blows. I always deflected the blows the best I could and restrained and arrested the individuals.
Tailfeathers had a choice and that the actions he took make him accountable! It doesn’t matter if someone else was there, or if that person stood in a stance as if he wanted to fight. Did he say I have no argument with you and do not want to fight you? Or did he just begin fighting!
We all make choices and have to accountable for them! I never went looking for a fight and never wanted to injure or hurt someone and even though I had training which could cause severe injury, it was never once considered when working in this city! I always chose to protect the person attacking me the best I could while arresting them for assault!
He had a choice and now has to pay for that choice!