Father of slain Lac-Simon police officer 'disgusted' by coroner's report

The coroner's report into the death of Thierry LeRoux, 26, concludes the rookie police officer acted "with excessive confidence" in responding to a suicide threat in the Algonquin community — a conclusion Michel LeRoux finds "revolting."

Report says Thierry LeRoux, 26, acted 'with excessive confidence' in responding to 2016 suicide threat

Thierry Leroux, second from left, the Lac-Simon police officer who was killed during an intervention in 2016, is seen here with his father Michel, mother Christine and brother Steffan. (Michel Leroux)

Michel LeRoux, whose son Thierry LeRoux, 26, was killed while on duty in 2016, says he is "revolted" by the coroner's report on the circumstances of the police officer's death. 

The report, released Monday, concluded the rookie officer who'd been with the Lac-Simon police force for just six months at the time of his death, made a series of decisions that did not conform to police training — acting too quickly and without a plan. 

Thierry ​LeRoux was shot twice in the back at close range after he and a colleague responded to a 911 call about a man threatening to commit suicide at a home in the Algonquin community near Val-d'Or, Que., about 500 kilometres northwest of Montreal. 

The bullets pierced the officer's bulletproof vest.

Investigators concluded Thierry LeRoux was killed by 22-year-old Joseph Anthony Raymond-Papatie, who then turned the gun on himself and died.

"My goal hasn't changed. It's to make sure Thierry didn't die in vain," Michel LeRoux told CBC's French-language service, Radio-Canada. "But with a report like this, Thierry and all the others gave their lives for absolutely nothing."

The LeRoux family and the officer's colleagues created a foundation in his name last summer to support youth in Lac-Simon.

Thierry Leroux's first assignment was with the Kativik police force in 2014, before being hired by the Anishnabe Nation of Lac-Simon police service in August 2015. (Fondation Thierry Leroux)

'Acted with excessive confidence'

The coroner's report found two police officers should have confronted Papatie with their firearms in hand, but LeRoux had gone on his own to meet him. 

"It's possible Officer Thierry LeRoux acted with excess confidence," Coroner Jean-François Lécuyer said in his report

"The officers did not establish roles for each other, nor a game plan. There seems to have been a level of improvisation in the intervention."

Lécuyer also noted witness accounts said LeRoux "rushed up the stairs to intervene with Mr. Papatie," adding LeRoux didn't follow police training "to be patient throughout the negotiation."

Report unfairly blames officer, father says

Michel LeRoux said he feels the report unfairly lays the blame almost solely on his son. 

"It's not with something like that that we're going to prevent other police officers from suffering the same fate as Thierry," he said. 

"To say that you probably missed a line or a paragraph, or a chapter, in applying the teachings of the École nationale de police du Québec — for me, personally, it's disgusting," he said. 

Only one recommendation

Lécuyer had one recommendation for the regional health authority, the CISSS Abitibi-Témiscamingue, suggesting that it establish a procedure to inform patients with suicidal thoughts about suicide prevention services available to them in the region, in case of psychological distress.

He said he had no explicit recommendations to add to those put forward in May by Quebec's workplace health and safety board (known by its French acronym, CNESST).

The CNESST recommended that the Lac-Simon police service improve the communications system available to its officers in the field and that it add new workplace safety measures for its officers.

Crime-scene tape surrounds the home in Lac-Simon, Que., where Thierry Leroux, 26, was shot dead Feb. 13, 2016. The shooter, Joseph Anthony Raymond-Papatie, 22, turned the gun on himself and was also killed. (Claude Bouchard/Radio-Canada)

Since LeRoux's death, four officers instead of two are dispatched to every incident, from fires and health emergencies to family disputes.

Speaking with CBC when the CNESST's report came out in the spring, Michel LeRoux said he was satisfied with what it had to say. 

"I really believe they're going to make the changes necessary to be sure they improve the training ... to be sure that the young guys coming out of school and going through First Nations communities are well-prepared to face these situations," he said, adding he hoped there would be more funding for police in those communities.

With files from Brennan Neil, Catou MacKinnon and Radio-Canada