In the Canadian context, whether dealing with federal, provincial or municipal forces, it is extremely rare for police to be held in any way accountable when they kill people. On Thursday, November 19, 2015 one of those exceptional instances occurred when it was announced that two officers from the police force of Bathurst, New Brunswick have been charged in connection with the police killing of Michel Vienneau (51) on January 12 of the same year.
Nova Scotia RCMP, the force which had been charged with reviewing the case, announced that Constable Patrick Bulger, 38, of Beresford, and Constable Mathieu Boudreau, 26, of Dunlop, have each been charged with: manslaughter with a weapon; two counts of assault with a weapon; two counts of unlawfully pointing a firearm. Boudreau was identified as the officer who fired several times killing Vienneau. Both officers are to appear in provincial court in Bathurst on Jan. 4, 2016.
Vienneau was returning from a trip to Montréal with his partner Annick Basque when the couple were intercepted by the Bathurst police officers and shot and killed outside the city’s train station. According to court documents, Bathurst police received a Crime Stoppers tip that Vienneau would be on the train from Montréal and in possession of drugs. The Nova Scotia RCMP claimed, however, that their investigation found Vienneau not to be involved in any criminal activity.
Nova Scotia RCMP Inspector Larry Wilson met with media in Bathurst on Thursday but refused to answer many questions asked by reporters on grounds that the case was now before the courts. The New Brunswick Police Commission also announced on Thursday that Bathurst police Chief Eugène Poitras had filed a conduct complaint against the two officers charged in the shooting of Vienneau. That case was to be investigated by Moncton lawyer Judith Beglay but has now been suspended following the completion of criminal proceedings.
The two officers have been suspended but the Police Act conveniently allows only for suspensions with pay.