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N.B. police officers face hearing in shooting death of businessman

N.B. police officers face hearing in shooting death of businessman
Canada
Two Bathurst, N.B., police officers who were cleared of criminal charges in the 2015 shooting death of a businessman will face a hearing for alleged code of conduct breaches.

A judge threw out manslaughter and other charges last year against constables Patrick Bulger and Mathieu Boudreau in the death of Michel Vienneau, a Tracadie, N.B., store owner.

But Bathurst police Chief Ernie Boudreau said Wednesday a Police Act investigator has completed a probe, and there is “sufficient evidence that code of conduct breaches may have been committed by the officers.”

The 51-year-old Vienneau was shot in his vehicle outside the Bathurst train station on Jan. 12, 2015.

The city has said the officers were investigating whether Vienneau and common-law partner Annick Basque were in possession of illegal drugs after returning from a trip to Montreal.

In a statement of defence filed in a lawsuit filed by Basque, the city says the officers clearly identified themselves to Vienneau and had tried to stop his vehicle before it accelerated, pinning an officer against a snowbank. It says one officer fired at the car as it moved toward his colleague.

The Mounties have said an investigation revealed that Vienneau was not involved in criminal activity.

The officers had been charged with manslaughter with a weapon, assault with a weapon and unlawfully pointing a firearm, but Judge Anne Dugas-Horsman ruled in February 2017 after a preliminary hearing that the prosecution failed to produce enough evidence to warrant a trial.

In a release Wednesday, the Bathurst force said a settlement conference was held June 20 to allow the officers to respond to the allegations. But “agreement regarding disciplinary and corrective measures could not be reached” and the matter will go to a hearing before arbitrator Joel Michaud.

“The objective of police discipline and the New Brunswick Police Act is the protection of public trust, trust that is fundamental in establishing stability, integrity in effective delivery of police services,” Boudreau said in a statement.

“The members of our police force will continue as they have since the tragic events of January 2015 to police with pride and achieve its organizational objective of delivering effective and efficient police services to this community.”

Basque’s lawsuit alleges Vienneau’s death was due to police negligence. None of the lawsuit’s allegations or statement of defence have been proven in court.

Vienneau’s mother, Sylvie Vienneau, has questioned why police didn’t arrest her son after he got off the train, rather than wait until he got in his car. And she asked who had told them he would be carrying drugs.

“Our son is not in the drug world,” she said in an October 2015 statement.

The province’s attorney general’s office says it has ordered chief coroner Gregory Forestell to hold an inquest into the death.
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