Inquest hears from woman who was next to Michel Vienneau during fatal shooting

·4 min read
A coroner's inquest into the death of Michel Vienneau heard from his former common-law spouse, who was sitting next to him in his car when he was fatally shot. (Submitted by Nicolas Vienneau - image credit)
A coroner's inquest into the death of Michel Vienneau heard from his former common-law spouse, who was sitting next to him in his car when he was fatally shot. (Submitted by Nicolas Vienneau - image credit)

The woman who was in the car with Michel Vienneau when he was fatally shot near the Bathurst train station in 2015 and a police officer who took part in arresting her at the scene testified Friday at a coroner's inquest in Beresford.

Annick Basque and Const. Julie Daigle described very different understandings of what was taking place that day.

Basque said as she and Vienneau prepared to leave the train station parking lot after their weekend in Montreal, they talked about stopping to visit grandparents before heading home to Tracadie in time to get her children after school.

The next thing she knew, she said, it seemed like they were being accosted by terrorists. Two men with firearms got out of a vehicle in front of them. She saw no indication they were police officers and she heard a gunshot.

Based on previous testimony, those men were Const. Patrick Bulger and Const. Mathieu Boudreau.

Basque said Vienneau pushed her head down under the dash and told her to get down.

She felt the car turning left and told Vienneau to step on it.

Annick Basque, Michel Vienneau’s former common-law spouse, leaves the coroner’s inquest Friday morning in Beresford, N.B.
Annick Basque, Michel Vienneau’s former common-law spouse, leaves the coroner’s inquest Friday morning in Beresford, N.B. (Jennifer Sweet/CBC)

Just before they hit the snowbank, Basque says Vienneau asked her if she was OK and she replied that she thought she was. Then she noticed he was hurt.

Based on earlier evidence, Vienneau had been shot through the lungs and heart by Boudreau.

Basque said the only impact she felt was when the car hit the snowbank.

According to previous testimony, Vienneau's Chevrolet Cruze struck the unmarked Pontiac police car the officers had been driving hard enough to move it backwards before Vienneau turned left and accelerated toward Bulger.

After the crash, Basque said she heard indistinct yelling. She doesn't remember anyone telling her she was being arrested for drug trafficking, although she did hear someone yelling, "Where are the drugs?"

The RCMP took this photo of the scene outside the Bathurst Via Rail station, after Michel Vienneau was shot by a member of the Bathurst Police Force.
The RCMP took this photo of the scene outside the Bathurst Via Rail station, after Michel Vienneau was shot by a member of the Bathurst Police Force.(RCMP)

Basque said she was still thinking of how to escape and got the idea of trying to shift the car into reverse and floor the gas pedal.

She said she fought for her life against it, but was eventually removed from the vehicle, "shaken" and cuffed while a female officer yelled "nonsense" at her.

She says she didn't believe "real police" would look or behave that way.

Const. Julie Daigle testified that she was one of the first officers to approach Vienneau's vehicle after the shooting and crash.

She said she was in plainclothes and her badge was under her coat.

Daigle said she had a "conversation" with Basque, who seemed to be "in shock."

She told Basque she was a real police officer and directed Basque to get out of the car.

Bathurst Police Force Const. Julie Daigle testified in her patrol uniform because she was on duty Friday and showed the inquest jury her gear and the new larger badges members of the force have been wearing for about the last six to nine months.
Bathurst Police Force Const. Julie Daigle testified in her patrol uniform because she was on duty Friday and showed the inquest jury her gear and the new larger badges members of the force have been wearing for about the last six to nine months.(Jennifer Sweet/CBC)

Once Basque was handcuffed, Daigle said she searched her, and someone else took Basque away.

Before the incident, Daigle's vehicle had been parked in a driveway just across the street from the train station. She was supposed to help block the road so Vienneau couldn't drive away.

She'd texted Bulger as they waited for the train to arrive and from the reply she received she understood Vienneau was "arrest-able" for possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking.

Daigle said she saw Vienneau put two bags in the trunk and go to the front of his vehicle. He appeared to be taking a photo or video of the train, she said.

From the time his car started moving until it hit the snowbank was about 20 seconds, she estimated.

Daigle said she did not see Vienneau's vehicle strike the one Boudreau was driving, but she did see that the red and blue police lights were on.