Four Mounties sue attorney general over 2014 Moncton shootings

MONCTON, N.B. — Four RCMP officers who responded to the 2014 shootings in Moncton, N.B., that claimed the lives of three of their colleagues are suing the attorney general of Canada for negligence.

Mathieu Daigle, Martine Benoit, Robert Nickerson and Shelly Mitchell say in the filings they were inadequately trained and outfitted with only their pistols to deal with a heavily armed shooter using a military-style rifle on June 4, 2014.

In statements of claim filed with the Court of Queens Bench dated last week, the four say they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and other ailments and are seeking damages to be determined by the court.

C8 carbine rifles were not available to general duty officers during the shooting spree in Moncton, despite being approved for use in 2011. Their introduction was delayed on several occasions.

"The Plaintiff alleges that the negligence of the RCMP resulted in a situation where he was unequipped to engage the armed assailant, putting his life and the life of his colleagues at extreme risk," Daigle's statement of claim reads.

The four say a Sept. 29, 2017 conviction of the RCMP on Canada Labour Code charges made clear that the police force did not act with due diligence in the rollout of carbines for members, putting their lives at risk.

In that ruling, Judge Leslie Jackson found the force guilty of failing to provide its members with the appropriate use-of-force equipment and user training when responding to an active threat or active shooter in an open environment, leaving them "ill-prepared to engage an assailant armed with an automatic rifle."

Constables Fabrice Gevaudan, Dave Ross and Doug Larche were killed, while constables Eric Dubois and Darlene Goguen were wounded when Justin Bourque targeted police officers in hopes of sparking an anti-government rebellion.

The rampage set off a 30-hour manhunt that drew in officers from around the region.

Bourque was given three consecutive life sentences without chance of parole for at least 75 years.

In the court filings, all four officers attest to post-traumatic stress, among numerous other related issues.

In his statement, Daigle describes having nightmares of watching his colleagues die and can see the assailant firing at him. He said he is plagued by survivor's guilt, has anxiety and memory loss and has lost faith in the federal police force, with no desire in rising through the RCMP ranks.

Mitchell, a 15-year veteran, was medically released from the RCMP in 2018 even though she'd hoped to return to the force after a lengthy stint on leave.

Benoit has struggled in repeated attempts to get back to work, has had her home life adversely affected and has been off work since February.

Her claim describes being pinned down inside her vehicle by heavy gunfire and later arguing with another officer as both insisted the other take the last body armour available.

Benoit also describes being positioned alone to guard the perimeter without having any way of properly defending herself.

Nickerson has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression, separated from his wife of 12 years and only sees his children part-time. He has also has battled alcoholism and ended up in rehab, his statement says.

A spokesman for the federal Justice Department said it had no comment on the filing while the RCMP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

© Copyright Prince George Citizen