The RCMP was found guilty Friday of failing to provide its members with use-of-force equipment and training in connection with the 2014 New Brunswick shooting rampage that left three Mounties dead and two others injured.
However, in the landmark decision, provincial court Judge Leslie Jackson found the Crown did not prove its case on two other Labour Code violations and issued a judicial stay on the fourth charge. The judge did not offer reasons for the verdicts.
The case centred on whether the national police force had properly armed its officers for a live shooter situation ahead of Justin Bourque’s targeted attack on RCMP officers in Moncton on June 4, 2014.
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Rank and file members insisted they were outgunned by Bourque, who roamed a Moncton neighbourhood and methodically gunned down officers using a high-powered assault rifle.
Constables Fabrice Gevaudan, Dave Ross and Doug Larche were killed, while constables Eric Dubois and Darlene Goguen were injured in the shootings.
The wives of the three fallen Mounties sat quietly in the Moncton courtroom as the verdicts were read out during the brief hearing.
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Outside court, Angela Gevaudan said the RCMP’s decision to fight the Labour Code charges had hurt the policing community.
“It’s been very disheartening to have these charges challenged in the first place,” she said.
“I think it breaks the trust and I think the members are still very hurt and feel unsupported and I think that needs to be addressed.”
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Cpl. Patrick Bouchard echoed that sentiment, saying senior leadership needs to listen to its members when it comes to responding to their needs. Bouchard worked alongside the Mounties who died and in June wrote an open letter on Facebook condemning the testimony of then-commissioner Bob Paulson in the trial.
“When the organization fails – and it’s been proven today – that it fails to support the rank and file these tragedies happen,” Bouchard said Friday outside the courthouse.
“This is why the RCMP needs to step it up and listen to the rank and file to what we need.”
Paulson had testified that management had concerns over the possible militarization of the force.
C8 carbine rifles were not available to general duty officers at the time of the Moncton shootings, and numerous witnesses who testified at the RCMP trial said they could have made a difference.
Carbine rifles were approved for use in 2011, but their rollout was delayed on several occasions.
Lawyer Mark Ertle, who represented the RCMP at the trial, said Friday “it’s too early to tell” whether the force will appeal. He said they hope to call evidence at the Nov. 23 sentencing about what the RCMP has since done to equip its officers.
Jackson found the force guilty of failing to provide its members with the appropriate use-of-force equipment and user training when responding to an active threat or active shooter in an open environment.
He found the RCMP not guilty of failing to provide its members with the necessary information, instruction and/or training when responding to an active threat or active shooter event in an open environment.
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He also found the force not guilty of failing to provide its supervisory personnel with appropriate information, instruction and/or training to ensure the health and safety of RCMP members when responding to an active threat or active shooter event in an open environment.
He stayed a charge of failing to ensure, in general, the health and safety of its members.
The defence argued at the trial that the RCMP exercised due diligence in its rollout of patrol carbines, while the Crown argued management knew front-line officers were at risk and the rollout of carbines took too long.
Bourque had targeted police officers in hopes of sparking an anti-government rebellion.
The rampage set off a 30-hour manhunt that drew in officers from around the region.