Tag Archives: shooting

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

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Police Kill at Least One Person in Incident at Hospital in Cobourg, Ontario (Oct. 27, 2017)

Details are still emerging about a police involved shooting at the Northumberland Hills Hospital emergency room during which two people were left dead, at least one whom was killed by police. The incident unfolded right before midnight, Friday, October 27, 2017, at the hospital in Cobourg, Ontario, a small town about 115 Kilometers east of Toronto. The two victims are a husband and wife in their 70s. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which examines cases of police harm to civilians in Ontario, is investigating.

SIU spokesperson Jason Gennaro has publicly stated that police in Cobourg were initially called to the hospital emergency room on reports of the sound of gunshots at about 11 PM. The SIU reports that police claim they encountered the 70-year-old man and two officers fired their weapons striking the man and killing him. He was pronounced dead on the scene. The SIU reports that officers then found a 76-year-old woman who was dead, apparently of some type of head wound.

The SIU has only confirmed that the couple were admitted to hospital. “for unknown ailments” and that at some point in the evening they had been next to each other on gurney’s in a triage area of the emergency room. Other important details have not been released publicly or confirmed.

There has been some speculation that the woman had been shot, but Gennaro would not confirm that. It has also not been confirmed at this point that the man had any type of weapon.

One witness claims hearing at least five or six shots after police arrived. Other witnesses have reported hearing multiple shots in a manner that suggested to them the use of an assault weapon.

Northumberland Hills Hospital has only confirmed in a statement that there was a “serious incident” in its emergency department that involved a weapon. There are no details on whether this refers to the police weapons or another weapon. The SIU has not confirmed that the man had a weapon, but questions have been asked of the hospital how a patient with a gun could be admitted.

The SIU has assigned six investigators and two forensic investigators to investigate this shooting by police.


Fifteen-Year-Old Shot by Peel Regional Police Dies

A 15-year-old boy who was shot by Peel Regional Police in Mississauga, Ontario on July 27, 2017, has died of his injuries. The death of the boy, who has not been named publicly as of this publication date, was announced on August 26. Following the shooting by police he had been taken to SickKids Hospital in Toronto. Initial reports claimed that police had been called about a robbery in the area of Creditview and Britannia roads involving three young men.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the unit that examines police harm to civilians in Ontario has said that two of the youth fled while the youth who would be killed stayed in the area where he may have attempted other robberies (a video has appeared which CBC Toronto claims shows the youth brandishing a weapon, real or replica, at a Pizza Pizza worker). He was shot by police around 2 AM outside in a commercial plaza. The SIU has assigned six investigators and two forensic investigators to the case.


Toronto Constables Jeffery Riel and Darryl Lambie Identified as Officers in Killing of Kwasi Skene-Peters

A court case has revealed the names of two officers in the killing of Kwasi Skene-Peters (21) in 2015 to be Constable Jeffery Riel and Constable Darryl Lambie. The names of the officers who shot at Skene-Peters were released as part of a court case involving Kevin Duro (26), who was a passenger in the car at the time of the police killing. The officers were members of the controversial and now-disbanded Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (TAVIS) team.

The names of police officers involved in killing civilians in Canada are rarely made public, typically only being revealed in coroners’ inquests, lawsuits by family members,  or court cases. Killer cops are rarely charged for their actions in the Canadian context.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) which examines cases of police harm to civilians but does not release the names of killer cops publicly has already exonerated the officers who killed Skene-Peters. They have not confirmed that the officers named in the Duro court case are the subject officers in the Skene-Peters killing, but the court case identifies them as the two who fired shots during that event.

Neither subject officer spoke with the SIU or provided a copy of their notes during the investigation, a limitation of such investigations. However, they had no problem giving their accounts of the shooting in order to secure Kevin Duro’s conviction on firearms charges.


Repeat Killer Cop, Other Officers Cleared in Killing David McQueen, Quadriplegic in Wheelchair

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), the unit that investigates police harm to civilians, has cleared the repeat killer cop and the other Calgary police officers who shot and killed David McQueen, a 53-year-old quadriplegic man in a wheelchair, on January 24, 2016. ASIRT reported that several officers opened fire on McQueen with the last round fired , a bullet from a sniper, striking him in the head and killing him, but said the officers involved were fully justified in the killing. Police had reportedly responded to reports of McQueen firing a round from inside his house. Police fired tear gas into McQueen’s house driving him outside where they shot and killed him.

The killing of McQueen, quadriplegic with limited use of hands, in a wheelchair in his home, experiencing some mental distress has raised many disturbing questions. One of these relates to the fact that a officer who shot at McQueen was a killer cop who had committed a fatal shooting only a year before. That officer shot 27-year-old Anthony Heffernan four times, with three shots to the head and neck, on March 16, 2015. Heffernan had also been in some distress but was alone and confined to his hotel room and posed no threat to anyone, police or public, when police broke into his room and shot and killed him there.

The ASIRT investigation into Heffernan’s killing actually found evidence that an offense had been committed by police. The Crown claimed that there was not enough evidence to gain a conviction against the officer and did not pursue charges. The state certainly protects the state. The Heffernan family is suing Calgary police over the killing of their loved one.

In the ASIRT release on the McQueen killing, Susan Hughson, executive director of ASIRT, suggested that the killer cop’s involvement in the Heffernan case has no bearing on his right to use his firearm in another case. According to Hughson:

 

“You have to look at the incidents independently and look at the circumstances surrounding them to determine whether the steps taken or the actions taken were justified. And, just because the officer has been involved in another officer-involved shooting, he does not lose the protection of the law.”

 

Protection to kill civilians? Others might ask why the officer was still on the force and being deployed in such situations of a person in distress.

Director Hughson, noted McQueen’s distress: “There’s no doubt that this man was in crisis on this date.” Hughson noted that McQueen had been “struggling physically, emotionally and financially” in the days prior to his being killed by police. He has been particularly upset by the death of his beloved dog only the week before. Disturbingly ASIRT appeared to use this fact to make reference to a bogus “suicide by cop” defense for the police killing of David McQueen.

 


Surete du Quebec Shoot and Kill 23-Year-Old Man in La Sarre (Aug. 20, 2017)

The Independent Investigations Bureau (BEI), the unit that examines police harm to civilians in Quebec, is investigating the killing of a 23-year-old man by Surete du Quebec officers in La Sarre, a town in northwestern Quebec on August 20, 2017.

According to the BEI, two Surete du Quebec officers in vehicle patrol attempted to intercept a vehicle around 6 PM.  A police pursuit ended with the two vehicles colliding. Following the collision the victim excited his vehicle and was quickly shot by police. He died as a result of those police-inflicted wounds. Police have reported the man held a knife but none of the police accounts have been independently confirmed.

The BEI has assigned eight investigators to the case. The BEI is not an independent unit and will be assisted by a forensic identification technician and a reconstructionist from the Montreal police.


SIU Denies Justice for Tony Divers: Killer Hamilton Cop Cleared Despite Serious Questions

Family and loved ones of Tony Divers have been kept in the dark about the SIU investigation into the police killing of the 36-year-old Hamilton man. On Thursday, August 10, 2017, they received the awful news that the Special Investigations Unit  has cleared the Hamilton officer who shot Tony Divers will not be charged. The decision comes 10 months after the killing on September 30, 2017, a too long period of time in which questions from the family have not been properly addressed.

The officer responsible fired two shots at the unarmed Divers, with one bullet hitting the victim in the chest. Despite the fact that Divers was unarmed, SIU Director Tony Loparco concluded the officer was justified in believing his own life was at risk and in fearing that Divers was armed. Under Loparco the already questionable SIU has become something of a legitimation mechanism for cops who kill civilians.

Yvonne Alexander, Tony Divers’ sister, and a tireless advocate for information and justice, responded with the pained honesty of someone whose loved one has been killed by police: “I’m shocked but I’m not at all surprised. Because it seems to be the norm these days for officers to shoot and kill someone in mental crisis” (quoted in Bennett 2017).

Of particular concern for observers is the report that the call to police included a claim that Divers was  “anti-police.” Did this play into the quick resort to lethal force by Hamilton police?

This is reinforced by Loparco’s  conclusion in the case: “On all of the information that the [officer] had in his possession at the time he shot and killed Mr. Divers, I find that the [officer], subjectively, had reasonable grounds to believe that his life was at risk from Mr. Divers” (quoted in Bennett 2017). Because he was said to be “anti-police?”

Loparco continues: “I find in all the circumstances, that despite the after the fact knowledge that Mr. Divers was not armed, the [officer] reasonably believed that his life was in danger from Mr. Divers and his actions in firing upon Mr. Divers were justified” (quoted in Bennett 2017). This is in keeping with other SIU findings under Loparco.

Loparco further notes in his report that the officer who shot Tony Divers had had previous contact with the victim and considered him “anti-police and very violent” (quoted in Bennett 2017). The officer actually appears to have held several prejudices against Tony Divers, including the assumptions that he was involved in organized crime and a drug user. The SIU report does not delve into these issues in probing detail.

The family says that Tony Divers was struggling with mental health issues when the officer shot him. For the family, this did not matter to police who responded to their loved one through the prejudging lens that held him as simply a thug.

Edward Divers, the victim’s brother, said the decision and explanation for why the shooting is justified felt to him like “an eye for an eye,” that his brother was treated as a “violent thug” with no regard for his mental illness.

One eyewitness, who says he did not see Divers holding any weapon, also said the victim appeared to pose no threat to anyone. Yet he did note that Divers did not seem subservient to the officer, a situation that seems to provoke police violence (respect their authority or die). According to witness Joe Towers: “He didn’t look very afraid of the cop; he wasn’t being cooperative, but he didn’t look like he was any particular threat. It just didn’t seem like he wanted to be arrested” (quoted in Bennett 2017).

Further Reading

Bennett, Kelly. 2017. “SIU Clears Hamilton Officer in Death of Man Shot Near GO Station.” CBC News August 10. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/divers-siu-decision-released-1.4204146