The Province

Inquest into suicide of spokesman for RCMP begins

- NICK EAGLAND — With files from Glenda Luymes and The Canadian Press­d

A coroners inquest begins Monday into the death of the B.C. RCMP officer in charge of media relations when Robert Dziekanski was fatally stunned with a Taser at the Vancouver airport

Pierre Jean Dabe Lemaitre was 55 when he died on July 29, 2013 of self-inflicted injuries in Abbotsford. An inquest is held when the chief coroner has reason to believe there is public interest in being informed about the circumstan­ces surroundin­g a death, or if the death resulted from a dangerous practice or circumstan­ce, according to the B.C. Coroners Service.

The inquest at the Burnaby Coroners’ Court will also look into whether a jury can make recommenda­tions that may prevent deaths in similar circumstan­ces.

When Dziekanski was shot with a Taser in October 2007, Lemaitre was posted to the RCMP’s traffic services division, but was the officer in charge of RCMP media relations.

His initial accounts described Dziekanski as being distraught and behaving irrational­ly, adding that RCMP officers used two bursts of the Taser to immobilize him.

Video later surfaced that appeared to contradict those accounts. An inquiry into Dziekanski’s death was also told that Lemaitre had watched portions of the video before issuing the first news release about the incident.

Lemaitre was a 28-year veteran of the RCMP.

In 2015, his widow launched a lawsuit against the RCMP, saying he was driven to commit suicide as a result of the negligence of other RCMP officers and harassment on the job.

According to the lawsuit, Lemaitre became aware that some of the informatio­n he had released to the media was incorrect. When he requested permission from his superiors to correct the misinforma­tion, he was ordered not to and then was removed as media representa­tive on the case.

“After his posting to Langley in early 2008, he was shunned and isolated by his fellow members and constantly and repeatedly identified with the criticism levelled at the RCMP generally for their conduct in the YVR incident.”

Lemaitre was also brought into public contempt, according to the lawsuit, accused of being the “RCMP liar” and/or the “RCMP spin doctor.”

The veteran police officer became depressed, furious, reluctant to engage socially and told his wife he had “a rage in his brain that he could not stop and he could not control and didn’t know why,” said the lawsuit.

The allegation­s in the lawsuit have not been proven.


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