New Brunswick

RCMP review of Justin Bourque shootings faces criticism

The RCMP will release an internal review on Friday of the Moncton shootings that killed three RCMP officers and injured two others last June, but even before the report is made public, some people are voicing criticisms of the process.

Phonse MacNeil, a retired RCMP assistant commissioner, led the review being released Friday

RCMP will release a review Friday into the Moncton shootings, but some people are already critical of the process. 2:13

The RCMP will release an internal review on Friday of the Moncton shootings that killed three RCMP officers and injured two others last June, but even before the report is made public, some people are voicing criticisms of the process.

The RCMP say the report will be released on Friday at 10 a.m. AT, along with the police force's response to its recommendations.

The review was led by Phonse MacNeil, the former commanding officer of H Division in Nova Scotia.

But the RCMP has released conflicting information as to whether it is an internal, or an independent review.

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson wrote in an email on June 25 that, "The circumstances surrounding these offences require the immediate appointment of a competent internal authority."

In contrast, a news release on Thursday states: "The Royal Canadian Mounted Police will publicly release the Independent Review of the Moncton tragedy."

Retired RCMP corporal Terry McKee, who supervised two of the officers who were killed in the June 4 shootings, says it's misleading.

"Makes it sound to the public like this is actually an independent or a public investigation. And it's not," he said.

"This Phonse MacNeil, he's a retired assistant commissioner and he only recently retired, and Paulson and MacNeil know each other very well."

Criminologist Jean Sauvageau, who has been following the case closely, is also raising concerns.

"Can a retired police officer remove him or herself sufficiently from police culture in order to conduct these investigations? Do we not simply go right back into the same problem, even with a retired police officer?" 

Justin Bourque was sentenced on Oct. 31 to life in prison with no chance of parole for 75 years after pleading guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.

It is the longest sentence in Canadian history, and the harshest since the death penalty was abolished.

Bourque killed Const. Douglas James Larche, 40, Const. Dave Joseph Ross, 32, and Const. Fabrice Georges Gevaudan, 45.

Const. Éric Stéphane J. Dubois and Const. Marie Darlene Goguen were wounded in the Moncton shooting spree.

In November, Roger Brown, the commanding officer of the RCMP in New Brunswick, said he believed the internal report would address some of the communication problems that arose as Bourque wandered through a north-end Moncton neighbourhood.

"We had police officers from different provinces — from Nova Scotia, P.E.I. —  that came here, that are on a different radio system, [who] couldn’t communicate with each other," Brown said in the November interview.

Ambulance crews could not communicate with the police, while paramedics could not respond to the fallen officers because the area had been categorized as a kill zone, he said.

"This is one that we absolutely have to get fixed, not just here, but across Canada," Brown said last year.

The two-day manhunt for Bourque following the shootings involved more than 265 RCMP officers from across Canada and about 60 municipal police officers from forces across the country.

The officers searched the woods for the heavily-armed suspect wearing camouflage as Moncton residents waited under lockdown. He was arrested just after midnight on June 6.

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