Montreal

Montreal police officer will stand trial in connection with 2016 drug bust death

Christian Gilbert, a Montreal police officer accused of killing a man during a drug bust two years ago, is headed to trial.

Bony Jean-Pierre died after being shot in the head with a plastic bullet

Christian Gilbert was charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of Bony Jean-Pierre, 46, in May 2017. (Radio-Canada)

A Montreal police officer accused of killing a man during a drug bust two years ago is headed to trial. 

Christian Gilbert was charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of Bony Jean-Pierre, 46, in May 2017. He entered a not guilty plea two months later, in July.

Jean-Pierre was shot in the head with a plastic bullet in March 2016 while trying to flee a drug raid in a Montreal North apartment. 

He died in hospital later the same week.

After an 18-day preliminary hearing, Quebec Court Judge Pierre E. Labelle ruled Tuesday that there was enough evidence to proceed to trial. 

Several dozen of Gilbert's colleagues from the SPVM packed the courtroom to hear the decision. Some let out sighs of disappointment upon hearing the decision.  

Jean-Pierre's death exacerbated already strained relations in Montreal North. 

Bony Jean-Pierre, 46, died after being shot by a rubber bullet during a March 2016 drug raid in Montreal North. (Charles Contant/CBC)

A vigil a month after his death turned violent when some protesters began targeting shops and vehicles, police say.

Details of the 2016 police operation connected with Jean-Pierre's death are under a publication ban. 

The date of the trial, which will take place before judge and jury, will be set on Aug. 22.

Charges against police are rare

The last time a Montreal police officer was charged in connection with a death was in 2000, when Giovanni Stante was charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of Jean-Pierre Lizotte.

Bony Jean-Pierre, 46, died after he was shot in the head with a rubber bullet while fleeing police in a drug raid. (domainefuneraire.com)

Lizotte died in 1999 from injuries sustained during an arrest on St-Laurent Boulevard. Stante was acquitted.

Eric Sutton, a Montreal criminal defence lawyer, said police officers have more leeway than the average citizen as long as they are following police procedure.

But, he said, a conviction is possible.

"If they've acted in a gross and negligent or did not respect the procedure and were undue in their inattention to respecting their procedure, they can be convicted. It's not unheard of," he said.  

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