Montreal

Quebec man acquitted in police officer slaying

A jury in Quebec has acquitted a man of first-degree murder in the shooting of a Laval police officer who raided his home last year.

A jury in Quebec has acquitted a man of first-degree murder in the deadly shooting of a Laval police officer who raided his home last year.

Basil Parasiris and his wife Penny Gounis leave the Longueuil courthouse after he was acquitted of murdering Const. Daniel Tessier. ((Radio-Canada))
Basil Parasiris was acquitted on Friday by a 12-person jury at the Longueuil courthouse, on Montreal's South Shore.

He was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Const. Daniel Tessier, who died after being shot three times last spring after he entered Parasiris's Brossard home with a battering ram during a botched drug raid.

The verdict means the jury believed Parasiris's self-defence argument was enough to raise a reasonable doubt about the charges.

The father of two insisted he believed his family was being attacked by home invaders when a police team swarmed their house on March 2, 2007.

Believing the invaders were going to harm him, his wife and his children, Parasiris testified he had no choice but to shoot.

It was only after Tessier was lying on the ground that Parasiris realized he was an officer, he told the court.

Wife bursts into tears

Parasiris's wife, Penny Gounis, yelled "Oh my God" as the verdict was read out, and then burst into tears.

Crown prosecutors said they would take some time to consider whether they'll appeal.

Quebec Superior Court Judge Guy Cournoyer had already acquitted Parasiris of the attempted murder of another officer, Const. Stéphane Forbes, who was shot in the arm during the raid.

Two weapons-related charges were also dropped earlier this week.

Cournoyer also declared the warrant police used to enter the home to be illegal — a ruling that was kept from the jury while it deliberated the verdict for three and a half days behind closed doors.

Parasiris was granted bail after his arrest, unprecedented in any previous Canadian police officer slaying. 

Police to review guidelines: chief

Laval police Chief Jean-Pierre Gariépy expressed dismay at the decision, and reiterated the reason his officers entered Parasiris's home in the first place.

"Beyond the verdict, it is useful to remember that Mr. Parasiris had four firearms in his home and only one was legally registered," Gariepy told a news conference Friday night. "We found a variety of drugs and 17 cellphones and pagers in the home."

But Gariepy also acknowledged the trial had raised concerns about how the police operation was conducted.

He said the force will recommend that Quebec's Public Security Department review the guidelines and training for "dynamic entries," and that it clarify the procedures for obtaining search warrants.

Tessier's death and Parasiris's murder trial have been difficult on police officers across Quebec, the province's federation of municipal officers said.

But the federation is disappointed to learn Parasiris will walk on the murder charge.

 "We were looking for something else, we have to be truthful about that," president Denis Côté said on Friday. "We have to sit down and see what the verdict was about."

There could be lessons to learn from the raid on Parasiris's home, Côté said, but he refused to say officers involved in the bust were to blame for what happened.

Public Security Minister Jacques Dupuis said he will not be commenting on the verdict at this time.

With files from Ivan Slobod, Isabelle Richer, the Canadian Press