British Columbia

Coroner's inquest to probe death of RCMP's Robert Dziekanski spokesman

Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre, who handled RCMP media relations after the Polish immigrant's death, took his own life in 2013 after being transferred to a traffic unit.

Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre, who handled media relations after Polish immigrant's death, took his own life in 2013

Pierre Lemaitre shown leaving the Braidwood inquiry, where he testified in 2009. ((CBC))

A B.C. Coroners Service inquest into the death of former RCMP spokesman Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre will begin on Monday in Burnaby.

Lemaitre, 55, died of self-inflicted injuries in July 2013 while on leave from the RCMP.

The 28-year veteran of the force was the officer in charge of RCMP media relations when Robert Dziekanski was Tasered by RCMP officers during a fatal confrontation at the Vancouver airport in 2007.

Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski pictured at the Vancouver International Airport before he was confronted by RCMP officers and Tasered five times. He died at the scene. (The Canadian Press)

Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant who did not speak English, had arrived in Canada to live with his mother but became disoriented and wandered the airport for 10 hours.

He eventually grew agitated and at one point brandished a stapler. Four RCMP officers used a Taser to subdue Dziekanski. He died at the airport.

Following the death, Lemaitre initially described Dziekanski as combative and threatening. He said Mounties only Tasered Dziekanski twice. Later, a video surfaced showing police using a Taser five times on Dziekanski.

Widow filed lawsuit against RCMP

Lemaitre was eventually taken off the Dziekanski file and transferred to the RCMP traffic division in Langley, B.C.

In 2015, Lemaitre's widow filed a lawsuit against the RCMP claiming the force had made her husband a scapegoat in the Dziekanski case. 

The inquest has been ordered by chief coroner Lisa Lapointe after a review of the coroner's investigation into Lemaitre's suicide 

According to the B.C. Coroners Service, results of the original investigation will not be released. 

"The report would only be issued if we weren't going to inquest," said Andy Watson, manager of strategic communications.

"So, there were other processes that needed to play out before we could make the determination to take this to inquest or not."

A coroner's inquest is not a fault-finding exercise but can make recommendations aimed a preventing deaths due to similar circumstances.