RCMP offers ‘deepest sympathies’ to spokesman’s family after coroner’s inquest

The inquest heard that Pierre Lemaitre delivered the information he was told to give to the media about the death of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport in 2007

The commissioner of the RCMP is offering the department’s ”deepest sympathies” to the family of a former spokesman who an inquest heard experienced a deterioration of his mental health before he died by suicide in 2013.

A coroner’s inquest jury recommended this week that the RCMP evaluate its mental health strategy and offer a variety of methods for mental health education for its members after the death of Pierre Lemaitre, who was a sergeant.

The inquest heard that Lemaitre delivered the information he was told to give to the media about the death of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport in 2007, and only learned later that a video contradicted some of his statements.

Sheila Lemaitre testified at the inquest in Burnaby, B.C., that her husband urged his supervisors to let him correct the information, but he was ordered not to and became deeply distressed by media reports calling him an RCMP spin doctor and liar.

Commissioner Brenda Lucki says in a statement issued Friday that she is committed to continuing to implement measures that support the mental health of RCMP employees and the force welcomes the recommendations made by the coroner’s jury.

READ MORE: Inquest jury makes 5 recommendations into B.C. RCMP spokesman’s death

READ MORE: RCMP spokesman spiralled into rage, depression after Dziekanski case, inquest hears

Lucki says Lemaitre’s death is a tragedy that underscores the Mounties’ need to remain dedicated to investing in the health, well-being and safety of employees and families.

“Mental illness is a very real and urgent issue,” she says.

“We must ensure that employees and their families are aware of, and can access, support programs and services. We need to proactively protect our members from the impacts of trauma and operational stress injuries, and foster a culture that supports those who are directly or indirectly affected by mental health issues.”

Lucki says the RCMP appreciates every opportunity to examine existing procedures and policies to ensure it is providing the best support to employees, and by extension, the best policing services to the public.

She says it will review each recommendation and provide a written response to the B.C. Coroners Service.

“For anyone who is suffering or needs help — reach out. You are not alone,” she adds.

Atoya Montague, a former media strategist for the RCMP, testified that 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 the video emerged that showed Dziekanski was relatively calm when the Mounties arrived and that they used the stun gun five times.

The inquest jury made five recommendations, including calling on the RCMP to conduct mental health assessments in conjunction with the department’s three year mandatory physical assessment and to provide classes to family members after an officer is hired to provide an overview of the potential mental health issues they could face.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

Trial of RCMP officer begins in Nelson’s Capitol Theatre

Jason Tait is charged with manslaughter after an incident in 2015

Nine new COVID-19 cases announced in Interior Health region

The total number of cases since the pandemic started is now at 531 for the region

Around 2,400 people temporarily lose power in Castlegar

Fortis BC crews haven’t determined the cause of the outage yet

Castlegar Fire Department members raise $1300 for Muscular Dystrophy Canada

Members climbed the Cobra Climb Stairs in Castlegar as part of virtual fundraiser

Kaslo councillor admits to ‘baiting’ member of public in email exchange

Kaslo Village Council to consider adopting code of conduct

Weekend sees 267 cases, 3 deaths in B.C.; Dr. Henry says events leading to COVID spread

There are currently 1,302 active cases in B.C., while 3,372 people are under public health monitoring

Search suspended for Indigenous elder last seen mushroom picking in northwest B.C.

Mushroom picker Thomas (Tommy) Dennis has been missing since Sept. 16

Ahead of likely second wave, 60% of Canadians relaxing COVID-19 measures

Proportion of Canadians not following safety measures has dropped by 3 per cent in the past two weeks

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Canada’s population tops 38 million, even as COVID-19 pandemic slows growth

Immigration, the top population driver, decreased due to the pandemic

Lightning strike: Tampa Bay blanks Dallas 2-0 to win Stanley Cup

Hedman wins Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP

16 MLAs retiring from B.C. politics add up to $20M in pensions: Taxpayers Federation

Taxpayers pay $4 for every dollar MLAs contribute to their pensions

Liberals seek to fast track new COVID-19 aid bill after CERB expires

Government secured NDP support for legislation by hiking amount of benefits by $100 to $500 per week

Most Read