Day 2 of Vienneau inquest hears from officer who fired fatal shots

·4 min read
The Via Rail train station in Bathurst was cordoned off for a week following the January 2015 shooting death of Michel Vienneau. (Bridget Yard/CBC - image credit)
The Via Rail train station in Bathurst was cordoned off for a week following the January 2015 shooting death of Michel Vienneau. (Bridget Yard/CBC - image credit)

The second day of the Michel Vienneau coroner's inquest in Beresford heard from several police officers, including the two most directly involved in the fatal confrontation with him at the Bathurst train station in January, 2015.

Cst. Mathieu Boudreau and Cst. Patrick Bulger are both currently on patrol duty with the Bathurst police force.

But at the time they were with an integrated unit gathering intelligence on organized crime.

Boudreau broke down in tears briefly after answering that, yes, it was the first time he'd ever fired his gun to protect himself or someone else.

He said he had lost sight of his partner, and believed Cst. Patrick Bulger was being run over.

In his mind, he said, that justified the use of force.

Boudreau testified that he had been trained at the police academy in what level of force is appropriate for various situations and received refresher training the previous March.

Boudreau said he also knew from training that if there are drugs, as was reported in the anonymous Crimestoppers tip, officers should expect a possibly volatile situation.

Vienneau didn't have any criminal history or registered firearms, according to previous testimony.

But it's common to find unregistered firearms during drug busts, said Bulger.

Several members of the integrated intelligence unit that responded that day testified there was no solid plan about what they were going to do at the train station, but that Bulger was in the lead.

Sgt. Denis Lajoie said they certainly would have had more of a plan if they'd received more notice.

Lajoie said they didn't have much time to react after finding out around 9:50 a.m. Monday about a tip that had been submitted Sunday night.

Email and tips were not monitored after regular weekday hours, Lajoie said.

The main goal in going to the train station was surveillance, said Sgt. George Richard of the BNPP, a regional force that serves communities around Bathurst.

Constable Mathieu Boudreau was heard at the second day of the Michel Vienneau coroner's inquest.
Constable Mathieu Boudreau was heard at the second day of the Michel Vienneau coroner's inquest.(Francois Lejeune/Radio-Canada)

The general aim of the Northeast Integrated Intelligence Unit was to gather information that could be used to obtain warrants, said Bulger.

They'd received anonymous tips before and dealt with them differently case by case, he said.

They were going to intercept or follow Vienneau's vehicle depending how things went, testified Richard.

Their supervisor Ron Desilva had asked them not to get into a chase.

When it comes to an anonymous tip, said Bulger, you want to corroborate as much as possible.

And all the information seemed to match up with what they found at the scene, he said.

Once Vienneau's car was positively identified, Bulger said he decided they would try to immobilize it.

If Vienneau headed north, another unmarked police vehicle would cut him off.

They were waiting to see if he'd pick up other baggage or make any kind of exchange with someone else, according to both Bulger and Richard.

But Vienneau backed out and pointed his vehicle south away from the train station.

Boudreau said he pulled out simultaneously and tried to block Vienneau's way head on.

Bulger said he jumped out and yelled "Police, stop!," several times.

Bulger and Boudreau both said Vienneau drove his vehicle at theirs and hit it.

They said Vienneau's engine was revving and never stopped accelerating.

Bulger said he was in front of Vienneau's car and Vienneau was driving toward him.

He said Vienneau's car struck him in the knee and he ran as fast as he could backwards with his hand outstretched, sometimes touching or almost touching the hood, until he fell backwards into a snow bank.

Constable Patrick Bulger was heard on the second day of the Michel Vienneau coroner’s inquest in Beresford.
Constable Patrick Bulger was heard on the second day of the Michel Vienneau coroner’s inquest in Beresford.(Francois Lejeune/Radio-Canada)

At that point, Bulger says, he pointed his gun at the windshield.

He didn't know where Boudreau was or where the gunshots he heard had come from.

He said he got up and limped around the vehicle and began giving Vienneau first aid.

At first Vienneau was still breathing and had a pulse, said Bulger, but his condition deteriorated.

Bulger, a former ambulance worker. said a first aid kit he was given had frozen contents and wasn't usable.

He said a doctor arrived and offered to take over CPR.

Bulger said he intubated Vienneau and kept working on him on the way to the hospital.

The inquest continues Thursday.