2 Bathurst police charged in Michel Vienneau death
RCMP officer says investigation shows man killed wasn't involved in criminal activity
Two officers from the police force in Bathurst, N.B., have been charged with manslaughter in connection with the shooting death of Michel Vienneau outside the city's train station in January.
- Michel Vienneau shooting details emerge
- Review of Michel Vienneau fatal shooting by Bathurst police complete
Nova Scotia RCMP announced on Thursday that Const. Patrick Bulger, 38, of Beresford, and Const. Mathieu Boudreau, 26, of Dunlop, have each been charged with:
- Manslaughter with a weapon.
- Two counts of assault with a weapon.
- Two counts of unlawfully pointing a firearm.
Both men are to appear in provincial court in Bathurst on Jan. 4, 2016.
Charles R. LeBlanc, the lawyer who is representing Vienneau's common-law spouse Annick Basque in a civil lawsuit against the city, had little to say about criminal proceedings being initiated.
"In relation to the criminal aspect of the events of Jan. 12, 2015, we make no comments as there is a presumption of innocence until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal," said LeBlanc in a prepared statement.
Nova Scotia RCMP were called in to ensure impartiality in the investigation into the death of Vienneau, 51, of Tracadie, who was returning from a trip to Montreal with Basque when he was killed, .
In court documents filed in connection with the negligence lawsuit filed by Basque, Boudreau is identified as the officer who shot Vienneau.
Court documents indicate Bathurst police received a Crime Stoppers tip that Vienneau would be on the train from Montreal and in possession of drugs.
However, RCMP Sgt. Alain LeBlanc told reporters in Bathurst on Thursday their investigation found Vienneau was not involved in any criminal activity.
The City of Bathurst's statement in the negligence lawsuit says two officers identified Vienneau's vehicle and intercepted it with their police car, then got out of the car, which had police lights activated, and identified themselves.
The city says Vienneau then accelerated without warning and pinned one of the officers against a snowbank, and the other officer then fired several shots to stop the vehicle because he was concerned about his partner's safety. The shots hit Vienneau, killing him.
After the Nova Scotia RCMP investigated the case, they turned the file over to New Brunswick public prosecutions to review whether it believed charges were warranted.
"The prosecution service concluded the review that led to charges being laid in this case," stated the RCMP news release.
Nova Scotia RCMP Insp. Larry Wilson met with reporters in Bathurst on Thursday, and said city and police officials there were advised of the results and the decision to proceed with charges in the previous 24 hours.
Wilson said he realizes the public wanted to know more about the case, but the RCMP wanted to protect the integrity of the investigation.
"We know this has been frustrating for many, especially the families and the residents of Bathurst," said Wilson.
Wilson said he was unable to answer many of the questions put to him because the case is now before the courts.
The New Brunswick Police Commission announced Thursday that Bathurst police Chief Eugène Poitras had filed a conduct complaint against the two officers charged in the Vienneau shooting.
Moncton lawyer Judith Beglay was appointed to investigate the allegations.
However, given the criminal charges against the officers, the commission is suspending the processing of the chief's complaint until criminal proceedings are completed.
Poitras also issued a press release Thursday saying the two officers had been "suspended per departmental policy pending the outcome of the Court Proceedings."
In New Brunswick, the police act only allows suspensions with pay.