Montreal police officer on trial for Bony Jean-Pierre's 2016 death

·2 min read

The manslaughter trial began Monday for Montreal police officer Christian Gilbert, charged in the death of Bony Jean-Pierre during a drug raid in Montréal-Nord in 2016.

Gilbert was a member of the tactical squad conducting the raid at a residence on March 31, 2016.

Jean-Pierre was hit in the head with a rubber bullet during the raid while trying to flee out a window. He fell two and a half metres to the ground. He died a few days later of his injuries. Gilbert pleaded not guilty Monday morning.

Yves Francoeur, head of the Montreal Police Brotherhood, spoke to reporters before the trial began. "We still don't understand why prosecutors authorized charges against our police officer. He was only doing his duty," Francoeur said. "We have confidence in the justice system. We are confident that he will be acquitted," he continued.

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Jean-Pierre's death heightened tensions between police and the community in Montréal-Nord. About 100 people held a vigil and march after Jean-Pierre's death. The event began peacefully, but some of the protesters vandalized cars, set fire to a bank and threw projectiles at the local police station.

The Sûreté du Québec provincial force investigated the case. The BEI, the province's independent investigation unit which now investigates incidents involving police, had not yet been set up when the probe into Jean-Pierre's death was launched.

Eric Lavallée, a detective with the Montreal police street gang unit, testified about the investigation that led up to the raid.

Lavallée said police had determined the apartment that was raided had been used to sell drugs. Undercover officers were able to successfully purchase marijuana from that apartment. Lavallée also said police had previously received tips that there might be firearms present in that building.

Dr. Liza Boucher, the pathologist who performed the autopsy on Jean-Pierre, testified that he died from severe head trauma after being hit by a rubber bullet. The trial also heard from an SQ crime scene investigator who presented photos of the scene. The trial is expected to last five weeks.