Category Archives: New Brunswick

Judicial Review Sought over Dropped Charges in Case of Killer Cops Patrick Bulger and Mathieu Boudreau

Courts in Canada have consistently protected police officers who kill against prosecution. Usually charges are not laid and in other cases charges are dropped after it is decided there has been too long a delay in bringing the officers to trial. The state determinedly protects the state. In the case of the killing of Michel Vienneau by Bathurst police officers Patrick Bulger and Mathieu Boudreau in 2015 a judicial review is now being sought after a provincial judge Anne Dugas-Horsman decided earlier in 2017 not to bring the officers to trial. They had faced charges of manslaughter. The judge’s decision was roundly criticized and shocked family and friends who then initiated a petition calling for a review.

On January 12, 2015, 51-year-old Michel Vienneau of Tracadie, New Brunswick, was shot and killed by Bathurst Police Force Constable Patrick Bulger (38) and Constable Mathieu Boudreau (26) under highly dubious circumstances. Vienneau was shot as he left the Bathurst VIA Rail train station following return from a trip to Montreal with his partner Annick Basque. The officers were supposedly responding to accusations against the couple through an anonymous Crime Stoppers tip. A subsequent investigation by RCMP found that neither Vienneau nor Basque were involved in any criminal activity and neither were carrying drugs as the tip claimed.

On Tuesday, April 11, 2017 it was announced that New Brunswick’s public prosecution services is seeking a judicial review of Provincial Court Judge Anne Dugas-Horsman’s decision not to proceed to trial in the case. Judge Dugas-Horsman ruled in February 2017 that there was not enough evidence to take the officers to trial.

According to spokesperson Sheila Lagacé in a prepared statement: “Public prosecutions services is of the opinion that the judge at the preliminary hearing failed to consider all of the relevant evidence and thereby committed a jurisdictional error” (quoted in Yard and MacKinnon 2017).

Judge Dugas-Horsman had ruled that the prosecution failed to meet the threshold that both accused officers engaged in an illegal act when they killed Vienneau. The public prosecutions services wants a Court of Queen’s Bench justice to review that decision.

The Court of Queen’s Bench could uphold the decision of the provincial court or officers Bulger and Boudreau could be committed to stand trial following the review (Yard and MacKinnon 2017). The review will be based on information already on record.

According to defense lawyer Lutz this is “a highly unusual manner of proceeding” (quoted in Yard and MacKinnon 2017). He suggests that it is, in fact, the “first time he has heard of a judicial review in this type of situation in years” (Yard and MacKinnon 2017). It is, however, the only way to appeal a preliminary inquiry decision which can not be appealed in regular procedures because it is “an interim of a court process” (quoted in Yard and MacKinnon 2017.

Of note, public prosecution services is somewhat independent and does not act on direction from the provincial government in carrying out its responsibilities (Yard and MacKinnon 2017).

 

Further Reading

Yard, Bridget and Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon. 2017. “Judicial Review Sought of Decision Not To Try Police in Bathurst Shooting Death.” CBC News. April 11. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/bulger-boudreau-vienneau-bathurst-judicial-review-1.4065361


‘Justice for Michel Vienneau’: Petition Calls for Charges against Killer Cops Mathieu Boudreau and Patrick Bulger

Bathurst, New Brunswick, police officers Mathieu Boudreau and Patrick Bulger killed Michel Vienneau (51) on January 12, 2015, shooting the man outside the train station as he returned with his partner from a vacation. On February 24, 2017 Judge Camille Dugas-Horsman simply tossed the charges of manslaughter against the officers, an all too typical move by the courts to protect killer cops in cases where dubious conduct makes charges unavoidable. This decision was additionally troubling given that an RCMP investigation found that Vienneau was not involved in any illegal activity before or at the time that he was killed.

In response, and in outrage over that decision, “Friends of Michel Vienneau” are circulating a petition demanding that New Brunswick’s attorney general step in to order that the officers responsible stand trial in the killing. There are many questions that they want answered. Among these is why the police acted almost immediately with lethal force against a man who was not engaged in any criminal activity and who posed no threat to the public. Why did they shoot him?

As friend Camille Mclaughlin, who initiated the petition puts it: “For the friends of Michel Vienneau following the preliminary hearing, it was a disaster because there was no way we could see the truth in what happened. Why did they kill him instead of just check him? For drug or anything. They killed an innocent person who now has been cleared of any illegal act” (quoted in Yard 2017).

Another question is the identity and intentions of an anonymous tipster who called Crime Stoppers to accuse Vienneau and his partner Annick Basque of drinking and transporting drugs as they returned from a trip to Montreal. The anonymous tipster apparently gave detailed descriptions of the couple as well as providing police with the make, model, and year of the car registered to Vienneau (Yard 2017). Vienneau’s brother, Nicolas Vienneau, questions the nature of the Crime Stoppers tip  and wants the name of the tipster revealed publicly.

The petition, “Justice pour Michel Vienneau homme d’affaires tué par la police le 12 jan. 2015 à Bathurst,” can be found at change.org. It reads in part:

 

“We, the undersigned, request that Justice be done for Michel Vienneau and that a Trial be held to explain to the public why the police have committed such a shameful and brutal gesture at the Bathurst Station to commit a murder of an innocent businessman who wasn’t involved in any illegal act, rather than simply intercept it. The conclusion of the Preliminary Hearing in the case implicitly indicates that the police can now commit murders and assassinations on anyone without any consequence for their actions on their part. Transparency in this matter is very important and crucial in order to make the population aware of why the police have acted in this way.

“We, the undersigned, ask the Attorney General of New Brunswick, Serge Rousselle, to force a Trial for True Justice for Michel Vienneau’s family and friends.”

 

Vienneau’s niece, Nikki, saying Judge Dugas-Horsman’s decision has devastated the family, supports the petition and speaks of its importance to the family: “For us it’s important thing that a lot of people agree with us that this has to go on. We’re still on it. Michel is not here with us but somebody has to do the work” (quoted in Yard 2017). Vienneau’s parents, in ill health, have been hit hard by the killing of their son and by the actions of the court.

 

Further Reading

Yard, Bridget. 2017. “Michel Vienneau’s Friends Demand a Trial for Killing in 2015.” CBC News. March 7. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/michel-vienneau-friends-demand-trial-1.4013298

Petition link: https://www.change.org/p/justice-pour-michel-vienneau-homme-d-affaires-tu%C3%A9-par-la-police-le-12-jan-2015-%C3%A0-bathurst-justice-for-michel-vienneau-businessman-killed-by-police-jan-12-2015-in-bathurst?recruiter=269294881&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=autopublish&utm_term=mob-xs-no_src-reason_msg


Killer Cops Patrick Bulger and Mathieu Boudreau Get Off as Judge Tosses Manslaughter Charges

New Brunswick Judge Anne Dugas-Horsman has played the part often played by the courts in protecting killer cops by throwing out all charges charges against Constable Patrick Bulger and Constable Mathieu Boudreau in the killing of Michel Vienneau (51) in 2015. Vienneau was shot and killed in his vehicle outside the train station in Bathurst, NB on January 12, 2015.  Bulger (38) and Boudreau (26) had each faced charges of manslaughter with a weapon, assault with a weapon, and unlawfully pointing a firearm.

Judge Dugas-Horsman simply ruled in provincial court on February 24, 2017, that the prosecution failed to make their case in a preliminary hearing. No other details were released. Instead the judge blandly stated: “It is my ruling … you are both discharged of all charges” (quoted in Bissett 2017). Bulger’s lawyer suggested the killing was an accident, but as in most of these cases the killings are intentional (and avoidable), not accidents at all.

The situation that led to Vienneau’s killing was another matter of the murderous drug war in Canada and involved the rather trivial issue of suspected possession of illegal drugs. The police constables were investigating, on an unclear basis beyond an anonymous Crime Stoppers tip, whether Vienneau and his common-law partner held illegal drugs following a trip to Montreal. No one should die, and certainly no one should be judicially executed by the state over drug possession.

Even more outrageously and pathetically, an RCMP investigation found that Vienneau was not involved in any criminal activity. He was quite literally executed by officers Bulger and Boudreau for nothing.

Vienneau’s partner was in the vehicle and witnessed the shooting, In a civil lawsuit she claims that Vienneau’s death was solely caused by police negligence.

Further Reading

Bissett, Kevin. 2017. “Judge Ends Manslaughter Case Against N.B. Police Officers in Shooting.” Canadian Press. February 24. http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/judge-ends-manslaughter-case-against-n-b-police-officers-in-shooting-1.3299437


Two Bathurst Police Officers Charged with Manslaughter in Killing of Michel Vienneau (New Brunswick)

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.


New Brunswick: People who Died through Contact with Police Since 1987

New Brunswick: People who Died through Contact with Police Since 1987

People who died following a police intervention:

• Kevin Geldart, 34, d. May 5, 2005
• Daniel Levesque, 30, d. July 13, 2013
• William David McCaffrey, 26, d. Feb. 28, 2014

People who died in police custody:

• Randy Trenholm, 50, d. June 2, 2007

People who died following a traffic incident involving a police officer:

• Mélissa Gallant, 16, d. Feb. 15, 1999
• Stanly Léger, d. Feb. 15, 1999
• Jérémie Fournier, d. Sept. 15, 2004

Source: Coalition contre la Répression et les Abus Policiers (la C.R.A.P)