New Brunswick

RCMP pleas on Labour Code charges in Moncton shootings set for May 12

RCMP pleas on charges they violated the health and safety provisions of the Canada Labour Code in connection with the 2014 Moncton Mountie shootings have been delayed again.

4 charges relate to equipment, training and supervision after 3 officers killed, 2 wounded by Justin Bourque

From left, Const. Douglas James Larche, 40, from Saint John, Const. Dave Joseph Ross, 32, from Victoriaville, Que., and Const. Fabrice Georges Gevaudan, 45, from Boulogne-Billancourt, France, were killed in Moncton on June 4, 2014. (RCMP)

RCMP pleas on charges they violated the health and safety provisions of the Canada Labour Code in connection with the 2014 Moncton Mountie shootings have been delayed again.

The national police force was expected to enter pleas and set a trial date in Moncton provincial court on Thursday afternoon, but the case has been adjourned until May 12 at 1:30 p.m.

A pre-trial management conference on the nearly year-old charges was also expected to be held on Thursday.

Crown prosecutor Paul Adams requested the adjournment, saying there are ongoing discussions between the parties as they work toward a 'possible resolution.' (Kate Letterick/CBC)
But Crown prosecutor Paul Adams told the court there are ongoing discussions between the parties to work toward a "possible resolution" and they need more time.

Adams did not elaborate on what he meant by "possible resolution," but did say he expects to have a clear idea of where the case is going by the next court appearance.

Judge Troy Sweet agreed to the postponement.

The charges, which relate to equipment, training and supervision, were recommended by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada last year after its investigation into the shooting deaths of three officers and the wounding of two others by gunman Justin Bourque.

Lawyer Ian Carter, who represented the RCMP during Thursday's appearance, told reporters outside the courthouse "there's a significant amount of material to go through.

Lawyer Ian Carter represented the RCMP during Thursday's court appearance in Moncton. (Kate Letterick/CBC)
"We're working at narrowing the issues, and to come back and be in a position to tell the court what we're doing, at the next appearance," he said.

The case was initially scheduled to be heard on July 9, but was adjourned at least three previous times at the request of the defence.

In January, the RCMP elected to be tried by a provincial court judge.

Mark Ertel, who represented the RCMP during the court appearance, had described the file as "voluminous and complicated."

Ertel had requested a pre-trial conference to go over the material, saying the length of the trial would be dictated by what took place at that hearing.

Employment and Social Development Canada, which is responsible for investigating the death of any federal government employee who dies on the job, laid the charges against the RCMP in May 2015.

The charges include:

  • Failing to provide RCMP members with appropriate use of force equipment and related user training when responding to an active threat or active shooter event.
  • Failing to provide RCMP members with appropriate information, instruction and/or training to ensure their health and safety when responding to an active threat or active shooter event in an open environment.
  • Failing to provide RCMP supervisory personnel with appropriate information, instruction and/or training to ensure the health and safety of RCMP members when responding to an active threat or active shooter event in an open environment.
  • Failing to ensure the health and safety at work of every person employed by it, namely: RCMP members, was protected.

Each of the four charges comes with a maximum fine of $1 million.

No individual RCMP manager or supervisor is named in the charges.

Progress on carbine use

Retired RCMP officer Terry McKee, who supervised two of the Moncton Mounties who were killed, has repeatedly called for a public inquiry to identify the individuals who "made fatal decisions not to roll out … carbines in a timely fashion."

An internal RCMP review found the officers who responded to Justin Bourque's shooting spree on June 4, 2014 were outgunned. (Marc Grandmaison/Canadian Press)
An internal RCMP review of the Moncton shootings noted no members of the Codiac detachment were trained to use a carbine weapon, which is a high-powered, short-barrelled rifle that has a longer accurate range than a sidearm or shotgun.

The responding officers were outgunned by Justin Bourque during his shooting spree as he roamed through a Moncton neighbourhood, retired assistant commissioner Alphonse MacNeil said in his report.

Bourque was armed with a M305 .308 semiautomatic rifle and a Mossberg 500 12-gauge shotgun, while the Mounties had to rely on pistols and shotguns.

In February, the RCMP announced they have expedited the use of patrol carbines by officers across the country, by purchasing 4,000 carbines and training more than 3,300 members — about one-quarter of the force's front-line officers — in their use. The goal is to have half of the officers trained this year.

Issuing carbines to Mounties was a key recommendation of a 2011 inquiry into the deaths of four RCMP officers in Mayerthorpe, Atla, in 2005.

New Brunswick RCMP were among the last in the force to receive carbines, according to Assistant Commissioner Roger Brown.

The Moncton RCMP detachment did have some carbines at the time of the 2014 shooting, but no members were trained to use them.

Const. Douglas James Larche, 40, Const. Dave Joseph Ross, 32, and Const. Fabrice Georges Gevaudan, 45, were shot and killed by Bourque as he made his way through a Moncton neighbourhood on the evening on June 4, 2014.

Const. Éric Stéphane J. Dubois and Const. Marie Darlene Goguen were wounded in the shootings.

Bourque, who pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder, was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of being paroled for 75 years.

With files from Kate Letterick

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