No one took command during a 2014 shooting rampage in Moncton, N.B., so officers were forced to make their own decisions amid the chaos, a retired assistant RCMP commissioner told the Mounties’ Labour Code trial Wednesday.
Alphonse MacNeil, who conducted an independent review of the shootings for the force, said few front-line supervisors were trained to take control of such situations at the time.
“Someone had to be in charge. It’s not a time to consult, and nobody took on that role,” said MacNeil in Moncton provincial court.
MacNeil said there was a lack of communication, noting that no one went on the radio to indicate when Const. Fabrice Gevaudan had been shot – one of three Mounties who died on June 4, 2014.
“Nobody really got on the air and clearly articulated what was happening so that responders would be well aware of the gravity of the situation,” he said.
He said the lack of coordination continued after the 20-minute window of the shootings, with members from other detachments arriving in the early hours of June 5 unaware of where they should go.
WATCH: RCMP labour code trial enters its second week in Moncton
MacNeil said officers were at a tactical disadvantage during the initial response because gunman Justin Bourque’s semi-automatic rifle and shotgun were more powerful than the Mounties’ pistols. He also said no responding members had put on hard body armour.
“Both of those stood out to me as concerning,” said MacNeil, the final Crown witness in the trial. “No one went on air to say ‘We’re in a shooting situation, put on your hard body armour’.”
MacNeil’s 2015 report concluded that carbines could have made a difference in the incident.
Carbines, which Mounties have testified are effective in outdoor active-shooter situations because of their range and accuracy, were not available to the Mounties in Moncton at the time.
The national police force approved the C8 carbine rifles in September 2011, but the rollout took time.
MacNeil also noted to Judge Leslie Jackson that his findings were not to lay blame on any Mounties.
“This was a highly dangerous, highly emotional situation. They were doing the best they could with what they had,” he said.
The RCMP is accused of violating the Labour Code for allegedly failing to provide members and supervisors with the appropriate information, instruction, equipment and training in an active-shooter event.
Gevaudan and constables Doug Larche and Dave Ross were killed, while constables Eric Dubois and Darlene Goguen were wounded when Bourque used a semi-automatic rifle to target police officers in Moncton’s northwest end.
Bourque, who hoped to start an anti-government rebellion, was sentenced to life in prison with no parole eligibility for 75 years after pleading guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.
© 2017 The Canadian Press