Quebec City police officer who killed cyclist 'impulsive,' says Crown while defence calls for acquittal

Quebec City police officer who killed cyclist 'impulsive,' says Crown while defence calls for acquittal

Simon Beaulieu's defence attorney challenged the testimony of the Crown prosecutor's expert witness during his closing arguments on Monday at the Quebec City courthouse.

Beaulieu is facing charges of criminal negligence and dangerous driving causing death in the death of Guy Blouin.

The police officer struck and killed Blouin, 48, on Sept. 3, 2014, when he backed up on Saint-François Est Street in Quebec City, running over Blouin who was on his bicycle.

Defence lawyer Maxime Roy was quick to rule out the analysis provided by Yves Brière, a crime scene reconstruction expert presented by Crown prosecutor Michaël Bourget earlier in the trial.

"This is the first time in my career I can argue with as much conviction," said Roy.

Yves Brière told Quebec court Judge René de la Sablonnière the speed of the police cruiser reached 44 km/h, based on re-enactments of the incident and brake marks on the pavement.

Brière has done 155 accident reconstruction since he started working with the Sûreté du Québec in 2011.

Roy said Brière was overly confident in his conclusions and refused to consider data provided by the cruiser's GPS, which indicated the car's speed was 22 km/h.

"I absolutely cannot fathom that my client could be found guilty of criminal negligence," Roy said.

Faulty brake system

The defence also argued that even if Beaulieu's decision to chase after Blouin was up for debate, the impact the car's faulty braking system had on the outcome of the chase was not.

Beaulieu testified that he tried to intercept Blouin because he was driving his bicycle in the wrong direction on a one-way street.

When Blouin failed to stop, Beaulieu said he suspected the cyclist might have been involved in a series of attempted bike thefts reported earlier that morning. 

That's when he started chasing after Blouin, he said during his testimony.

Beaulieu said that when he saw Blouin veer towards the middle of the street he hit the brakes, which didn't respond as they should have, he said.

Jean Grandbois, a mechanical engineering expert called on by the defence, said the car's ABS braking system indeed had "intermittent" problems.

Roy told the judge that in these circumstances, the incident did not correspond to the definition of criminal negligence.

"He should be acquitted considered the braking system was unpredictable," Roy said.

Not dangerous driving, lawyer argues

Roy also highlighted that no dispositions of the Highway Safety Code ban driving a car in reverse.

He said his client never went over the speed limit of 50 km/h and that he was confident there was no other person other than Blouin in the street.

Roy also said as a police officer, Beaulieu could not be judged on the same level as a regular citizen.

"We can imagine that being on patrol requires more manoeuvres than your average person," Roy said, arguing that Beaulieu was trying to do his job and apprehend a suspect.

Beaulieu's actions 'impulsive': Crown

In the Crown's closing arguments, Bourget said Beaulieu acted in an "impulsive" way and should have been able to "predict" there might be an accident when he started backing up a narrow one-way street where there are several pedestrians. 

"Did he make all the necessary manœuvres to avoid risk?" Bourget asked.

"Given his knowledge of the neighbourhood, he would have known something was going to happen," said Bourget. 

He told the judge the police officer wouldn't have even been able to see a pedestrian exiting the Caisse Populaire on the street, and he gave no warning to let people know he was backing up, as he didn't activate the cruiser's siren.

"It is not optional to put the sirens on. It's a responsibility, especially given it's part of his duty" to keep people safe, the Crown concluded. 

Blouin was struck by the reversing cruiser at 13:02 and died 23 minutes later in hospital.