Category Archives: New Brunswick

Inquest Ordered into Killing of Michel Vienneau by Killer Bathurst Cops Patrick Bulger and Mathieu Boudreau

On Friday, November 24, 2017, the Office of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice and Public Safety in New Brunswick announced a coroner’s inquest into the 2015 shooting of Michel Vienneau by Bathurst Police Force constables Patrick Bulger (38) and Mathieu Boudreau (28).

Michel Vienneau, a 51-year-old Tracadie resident, was shot and killed in a Bathurst Via Rail parking lot on January 12, 2015 after the two officers, who may not have been clearly identified, attempted to detain him. The police were acting on an anonymous tip that Vienneau was carrying “a load of drugs” with him as he returned from Montreal with his partner Annick Basque. The tip proved to be completely false and Vienneau had no criminal record. Constables Patrick Bulger and Mathieu Boudreau were charged with manslaughter by means of an unlawful act, assault with a weapon, and unlawfully pointing a firearm but were let off by provincial court Judge Anne Dugas-Horsman.

Upon hearing of the inquest announcement that he had requested, Nicolas Vienneau, the victim’s brother stated: “We have been living three years of hell” (quoted in MacKinnon 2017). Reflecting on the pain his mother (85) and father (88) have been through, he suggested that they are still “terrorized”: “It’s terrible to live like this” (quoted in 2017). In his view: “If we can find some justice, it will not [help my little brother], but maybe it will give us a little bit of peace” (quoted in MacKinnon 2017).

Only days before the inquest was announced, Crown prosecutors gave notice that they would not be appealing the court decision of February 24 , 2017, in which provincial court Judge Anne Dugas-Horsman decided to drop charges against the two killer cops. The announcement by prosecutors resulted in a lifting of the publication ban on the trial and raised serious questions about the court’s actions, as we reported at the time. The Crown had sought a judicial review of Judge Dugas-Horsman’s decision, seeking to have it overruled, but Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Tracey DeWare dismissed that application in October.

Nicolas Vienneau reports that the family is “still in shock” over the decision not to appeal (quoted in MacKinnon 2017). He is left to ask: “How can justice allow a person to be shot dead…sitting in his car in motion, by two policemen in civilian clothes…with [an] unmarked car?” (quoted in MacKinnon 2017). The short answer is that the killers were cops and in the Canadian context they are allowed to kill with impunity. But more detailed answers are needed. The family remains perplexed that civilian witnesses were not questioned during preliminary inquiry, which they view as inadequate.

Nicolas Vienneau plans to bring a petition to the House of Commons to have the identity of the Crime Stoppers tipster revealed. In his words: “My family still believes that the tipster of this false information…is the key to the puzzle” (quoted in MacKinnon 2017)

Bulger and Boudreau are still working as officers but face a professional conduct investigation by the New Brunswick Police Commission. That investigation had been suspended while criminal charges were still in effect. With the conclusion of criminal proceedings that investigation will resume.

Annick Basque is suing killer cops Bulger and Boudreau as well as the City of Bathurst.

 

Further Reading

MacKinnon, Bobbi-Jean. 2017. “Michel Vienneau’s Family Hopes Inquest into 2015 Shooting Death Will Provide Answers.” CBC News. November 24. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/michel-vienneau-coroner-inquest-bathurst-police-shooting-1.4417683

Advertisements

Court Actions Questioned in Killing of Michel Vienneau by Constables Mathieu Boudreau and Patrick Bulger

Michel Vienneau, a 51-year-old man from Tracadie, New Brunswick, was shot and killed by Bathurst police officers Mathieu Boudreau (now 28) and Patrick Bulger (now 38) outside the Bathurst VIA Rail station on the morning of January 12, 2015. Despite serious questions about police killing of an innocent man under questionable circumstances, in which police had no “reasonable and probable” grounds to arrest, charges against the officers were dropped by provincial court Judge Anne Dugas-Horsman. Now that the Crown prosecutor has chosen not to appeal, the publication ban on evidence presented during the officers’ preliminary inquiry has been lifted. Emerging details raise further questions about the killer cops’ actions and the judge’s decision not to try their cases.

Police intercepted Vienneau as he arrived by train from a Montreal vacation with his common-law partner, Annick Basque. Police were acting on an unconfirmed and unverified anonymous tip that Vienneau was carrying an unspecified “load of drugs” back from Montreal with him. An RCMP investigation following Vienneau’s killing found that the tip was completely false. Vienneau not carrying any drugs, and he had no previous record with police. He was completely innocent of the claims made anonymously against him, yet police killed him shortly after encountering him. Constable Boudreau fired four shots at the victim who was inside his car at the time.

It seems that there was some pressure on Constable Bulger to make a big bust, and a concern that he might have missed it. When the tip came in just before 10 AM that morning, a supervisor is reported as saying to Bulger, “you missed a load this morning.”

Six police officers attended the Via Rail train station in Bathurst in three unmarked cars to intercept Vienneau. Curiously, they did not take the opportunity to arrest Vienneau immediately but instead waited until he and Basque disembarked the train, picked up their luggage and entered their vehicle.

Basque’s account of the police attempt to arrest Vienneau differs greatly from the one provided by the officers. She says that she did not even know that the men accosting them were police officers. When Bulger exited his car with a gun in his hands, she reports that Vienneau tried to drive by him, moving slowly. Basque suggests that when she heard gunshots her first thought was that the men were “going to kill everyone.”  Not realizing that they were police officers, she fought against her arrest until she recognized some uniformed officers.

The Crown’s case raised the fact that the police had no “reasonable and probable” grounds to arrest Vienneau in the first place because the tip police were acting on was unreliable and unverified. Details released reveal that the preliminary inquiry heard that less than an hour elapsed between the time police received the tip was and the time that they arrived at the train station. In fact, the tip was not investigated by police and, incredibly, several officers had not even read it fully.

In the decision of February 24 , 2017, provincial court Judge Dugas-Horsman stated that she simply did not feel Boudreau and Bulger had acted illegally. It seems that Judge Dugas-Horsman made several contortions of logic to let the police off. First, the judge found that ‘”not having reasonable and probable grounds’” for an arrest did not make for an unlawful arrest. She then said that technically an arrest never happened because, well the police killed Vienneau before he was fully under arrest (even though he was “technically” detained in his vehicle). The judge then gave officers another excuse, suggesting that officers have the right to stop vehicles under the Motor Vehicle Act. Judge Dugas-Horsman then went further offering the copaganda excuse that anyone disobeying a police order to stop (as Bulger says he did without independent confirmation of the order or whether Vienneau ever heard it if it were given). According to Dugas-Horsman (in full cop defense mode): “This failure to stop heightens the suspicion of a police officer, who is then entitled to wonder why the person is not stopping,.” The state protects the state and goes out of its way to do so in protecting killer cops.

The only testimony presented at the preliminary hearing, apart from that provided by Annick Basque, was provided by several police officers. The Vienneau family has raised questions about this. They ask why none of the civilians who were present at the train station were asked to provide their versions of what they witnessed that day. The family has also asked why no one has bothered to investigate where the anonymous, and false,  tip came from in the first place.


Judge Upholds Dismissal of Charges Against Killer Cops Patrick Bulger and Mathieu Boudreau in Michel Vienneau Killing

Constables Patrick Bulger (38) and Mathieu Boudreau (26) had each faced charges of manslaughter with a weapon, assault with a weapon, and unlawfully pointing a firearm for the shooting and killing of businessman Michel Vienneau on January 12, 2015 under highly questionable circumstances. The police had been given an erroneous anonymous “tip” that Vienneau was in possession of drugs when the officers confronted him outside the Bathurst, New Brunswick train station.

On October 20, 2017, Court of Queens Bench Judge Tracey DeWare upheld an earlier court decision dismissing the charges against the two constables. The evidence in the case still remains subject to a publication ban for at least 30 days, unless the ruling is appealed.

In February, provincial court Judge Anne Dugas-Horsman ruled, following a preliminary hearing, that the prosecution failed to produce enough evidence to warrant a trial. The judge dropped charges against the officers. New Brunswick’s Public Prosecutions Services challenged that ruling, arguing that the  the judge failed to consider all relevant evidence.

An RCMP investigation later found that Vienneau was not involved in any criminal activity. A civil lawsuit on behalf of Vienneau’s partner, who was accompanying him at the time he was killed, alleges that his death was caused by police negligence.

This decision is not surprising in the least since the state consistently protects the state in cases of police killings of civilians in Canada.


Privacy Commissioner Calls for Release of Body Cam Footage of Police Killing of William McCaffrey

Police in Rothesay, New Brunswick have fought to keep body camera footage of the killing of William David McCaffrey by an officer of the Kennebecasis Regional Police Force from the public. On July 27, 2017, the access to information and privacy commissioner for the province called for release of the tape.

The 26-year-old youth was shot and killed by police in his home on February 28, 2014, while experiencing mental health distress. McCaffrey was shot twice while harming himself. The force was not investigated by a civilian oversight unit but only by another police force, the RCMP. The finding for release of the tape comes after a 15-month battle over access to information by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

Commissioner Anne Bertrand in deciding the case determined that public interest in police use of force cases supercedes privacy, including for police. This ruling could have something to say about who is able to see police body camera footage in the future. In an interview Bertrand clarified: “In special circumstances, there may be a public interest in the public knowing about what happened, despite there being personal information involved” (quoted in Donkin 2017).

The Kennebecasis Regional Police Force had denied a request from CBC News of information of footage from a police body camera in 2016. They cited privacy concerns.

CBC News appealed the police decision to Bertrand. The news station argued that body-worn camera footage should be treated the same way as any other record showing how police make a decision (2017). According to the CBC News claim: “Having access to those records is necessary to ensure public safety and accountability” (quoted in Donkin 2017).

In her decision, Bertrand invoked a little used public interest section of the Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. It says that in cases where there is “a risk of significant harm,” which could include a danger to public safety, that section can override other parts of the law that protect privacy (Donkin 2017).

This would be the first case of release of police body camera footage in the Canadian context, unlike the situation in the United States in which such footage has been released numerous times. As is too often the case in public body decisions involving police conduct, the police force is not required to adhere to Bertrand’s decision and is already pursuing legal advice. Once again the police assume the powers of a law unto themselves.

 

Further Reading

Donkin, Karissa. 2017. “Video of Fatal Police Shooting Should Be Made Public, Commissioner Says.” CBC News. July 27. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/rothesay-shooting-commissioner-1.4223274


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