A coroner’s inquest jury is recommending the RCMP make changes to mental health programs after the death by suicide of a sergeant who was involved in a high-profile case in British Columbia that resulted in criticism of the department. (File photo by Advocate staff)

Jury recommends mental health education for RCMP members following inquest

BURNABY, B.C. — A coroner’s inquest jury is recommending the RCMP make changes to mental health programs for its officers and their families after the death by suicide of a sergeant in 2013 who was involved in a high-profile case in British Columbia that resulted in criticism of the department.

The inquest heard three days of testimony before the recommendations were made Thursday, much of it focused on Pierre Lemaitre’s role as the RCMP’s media spokesman after the death of a man who was in a confrontation with police at Vancouver International Airport in 2007.

The inquest heard Lemaitre released inaccurate information about the case of Robert Dziekanski that his superiors wouldn’t let him correct.

Lemaitre’s former family doctor and psychologist testified he had post-traumatic stress disorder from dealing with victims of crime but the incident involving Dziekanski increased his depression and anxiety.

Atoya Montague, a former media strategist for the RCMP, said Lemaitre was used to tell a false story about the death of Dziekanski, a Polish man who couldn’t speak English and became agitated after wandering around the airport arrivals area for 10 hours.

After the incident, Lemaitre told reporters that officers approached a combative man and jolted him twice with a Taser, but two days later a video emerged that showed Dziekanski was relatively calm when the Mounties arrived and that they used the stun gun five times.

Sheila Lemaitre said her husband was transferred off the case after two days and eventually moved to the traffic division, which he compared to “being put out with the trash.” He felt belittled and disrespected by his colleagues, with one calling him “redundant,” she testified earlier this week.

The five-member jury made five recommendations that call on the commissioner of the RCMP to:

— Include mental health assessments in conjunction with the department’s three year mandatory physical assessment.

— Offer a “variety of learning methods” for mental health education for all RCMP members.

— Develop measures to evaluate the effectiveness of the RCMP’s mental health strategy.

— Make funding available to implement the jury’s recommendations.

— Provide classes to family members after an officer is hired to provide an overview of the potential mental health issues they could face.

The RCMP did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the jury’s recommendations.

The officer’s family doctor told the inquest Lemaitre was prescribed antidepressants and anxiety medication but he was not suicidal. Dr. Cameron Smith described Lemaitre as a stoic man whose mental health issues began improving, only to worsen after Dziekanski’s death.

RCMP Supt. Denis Boucher, who was Lemaitre’s supervisor when he was moved to the traffic division, broke down as he read the last few email exchanges between the two men. He described Lemaitre as an integral part of the team.

But John Ward, a retired staff sergeant who was Lemaitre’s supervisor in the media division, said the officer didn’t seem overly stressed about the inaccurate information he gave the media after Dziekanski’s death.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Jason Aquino has been adding to his front lawn Halloween display for the past five years. “I wanted to do it big this year, because even in the pandemic, we can still enjoy Halloween,” says the Red Deer father.
Halloween spookiness rises to new level

Rare astronomical occurrence caps off a strange holiday

Alberta Health Services' central zone jumped from 162 active COVID-19 cases to 178 on Friday. Five additional deaths were reported provincewide, bringing the toll to 323. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
622 new COVID-19 cases set another daily high Friday

Province confirmed 622 additional cases Friday

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer and Roland Gaviola, Iglesia ni Cristo Church of Christ district minister in the Calgary region, stand in front of the 300-plus boxes of donated food at the Red Deer Food Bank Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Red Deer Food Bank receives big donation from local church

More than 300 boxes of food were donated Saturday

Advocate file photo
Man awaiting murder trial facing two new trials for breaching release conditions

Quentin Strawberry going to trial in March in connection with 2019 murder

Ecole La Prairie students and teachers dressed up in Halloween costumes and paraded by Barrett Kiwanis Place, while waving at the building’s residents in Red Deer on Friday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Ecole La Prairie students parade in Halloween costumes for Red Deer seniors

Dozens of Red Deer students put on their Halloween costumes to spread… Continue reading

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

Indigenous fishermen adjust lines on their boat in Saulnierville, N.S. on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS /Andrew Vaughan
N.S. Mi’kmaq chiefs demand stop of alleged federal plans to seize lobster traps

HALIFAX — The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs is alleging the… Continue reading

Grand Chief Arlen Dumas of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs speaks in Ottawa on Thursday, December 7, 2017. Dumas says he's concerned about the growing number of COVID-19 cases First Nation communities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
The family of Allan Landrie, shown in a family handout photo, is disappointed the Saskatchewan Coroners Service isn’t considering an inquest into the 72-year-old's hospital death. Landrie's death in September 2019 was ruled a suicide. More than three days had passed before his body was discovered locked in a hospital bathroom in Saskatoon. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
‘He was so sick,’ says daughter of Saskatoon man who committed suicide in hospital

Allan Landrie’s body was discovered three days after his death

ll
Imagining the origins of Halloween

Long ago and far away, a small assemblage of English people gathered… Continue reading

Red Deer College president Peter Nunoda. (Photo by contributed)
Peter Nunoda: Winter term will be busier on RDC campus

In my column last month, I shared details about Red Deer College’s… Continue reading

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie "The Name of the Rose" at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

He died peacefully in his sleep overnight in the Bahamas

A man runs across the Carcross Dunes in Carcross, Yukon, on July 2, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘No manual or checklist:’ Yukon ditching fall time change this year

The territory decided to adopt year-round daylight time in March

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains makes an announcement regarding vaccine procurement, in Toronto, on Wednesday, Aug., 5, 2020. Despite its status as an artificial intelligence hub, Canada has yet to develop a regulatory regime to deal with issues of privacy, discrimination and accountability to which AI systems are prone, prompting calls for regulation from businesses and experts. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov
Canada crawling toward AI regulatory regime, but experts say reform is urgent

5 million images of shoppers collected without consent at Canadian malls

Most Read