Inquest to probe link between former Burnaby Mounties suicide and Dziekanski case

Inquest to probe link between former Burnaby Mountie\s suicide and Dziekanski case
Inquest to probe link between Mounties suicide and Dziekanski case
RCMP spokesman Pierre Lemaitre talks to the media in front of an area at the Vancouver International Airport arrivals area where a man was tasered by police in the early morning Sunday October 14, 2007.

A lawyer says an officer who became a key public figure for the RCMP when Robert Dziekanski died after a confrontation at Vancouvers airport struggled with anxiety, depression and anger.

A coroners inquest began today into the death by suicide of Pierre Lemaitre, who was a sergeant with the Mounties when he died in July 2013.

Inquest counsel John Orr says the jury will hear from Lemaitres widow, Sheila Lemaitre, about challenges her 55-year-old husband faced arising from his career and relationships.

Orr says an expert will testify that post-traumatic stress disorder can happen when someone feels unsupported at work or when they are bullied and harassed in the workplace.

Lemaitre handled media relations in the days following Dziekanskis death in 2007 after he was jolted several times by a Taser.

The RCMP spokesman was later accused of misleading the public about what happened during the fatal confrontation.

But an inquiry into Dziekanskis death concluded that Lemaitre was not aware that some of the information he was releasing to the public was incorrect.

The coroners inquest also heard from police officers who responded to Lemaitres home in Abbotsford on the morning of his death. CPR was done for about 40 minutes but Lemaitre could not be resuscitated, the inquest heard.

BURNABY, B. C.—A coroner’s inquest will be held this week into the 2013 suicide of a former RCMP spokesman who provided the first reports on the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski following a confrontation with police at Vancouver’s airport.

Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre briefly acted as the face of the Mounties after Dziekanski was jolted multiple times with a police Taser during the 2007 confrontation.

Lemaitre, who was 55 when he died, had said that Dziekanski was combative and that only two bursts from the Taser were used to subdue him.

A civilian video later showed those statements were incorrect, but Lemaitre testified at an inquiry into the death that he released details provided by homicide detectives.

The inquiry concluded Lemaitre may not have known the information was wrong, but by then he had been transferred out of media relations.

A lawsuit filed by the officer’s widow after his death and settled out of court alleged Lemaitre had been made a scapegoat in the Dziekanski case.

Deputy chief coroner Vincent Stancato and a jury will hear evidence in Burnaby from witnesses under oath to determine the facts surrounding the suicide.

Coroner’s office spokesman Andy Watson said in an emailed statement that jurors will have the opportunity to make recommendations to prevent deaths under similar circumstances.

He said an inquest can be ordered if the chief coroner believes a “death resulted from a dangerous practice or circumstance.”

Watson’s statement also said an inquest is held if the chief coroner “has reason to believe that the public has an interest in being informed of the circumstances surrounding the death.”

BURNABY, B. C.—A coroner’s inquest will be held this week into the 2013 suicide of a former RCMP spokesman who provided the first reports on the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski following a confrontation with police at Vancouver’s airport.

Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre briefly acted as the face of the Mounties after Dziekanski was jolted multiple times with a police Taser during the 2007 confrontation.

Lemaitre, who was 55 when he died, had said that Dziekanski was combative and that only two bursts from the Taser were used to subdue him.

A civilian video later showed those statements were incorrect, but Lemaitre testified at an inquiry into the death that he released details provided by homicide detectives.

The inquiry concluded Lemaitre may not have known the information was wrong, but by then he had been transferred out of media relations.

A lawsuit filed by the officer’s widow after his death and settled out of court alleged Lemaitre had been made a scapegoat in the Dziekanski case.

Deputy chief coroner Vincent Stancato and a jury will hear evidence in Burnaby from witnesses under oath to determine the facts surrounding the suicide.

Coroner’s office spokesman Andy Watson said in an emailed statement that jurors will have the opportunity to make recommendations to prevent deaths under similar circumstances.

He said an inquest can be ordered if the chief coroner believes a “death resulted from a dangerous practice or circumstance.”

Watson’s statement also said an inquest is held if the chief coroner “has reason to believe that the public has an interest in being informed of the circumstances surrounding the death.”