When Robert Dziekanski died at Vancouver International Airport in 2007, after a discussion with RCMP officials, the sergeant in charge of communicating what turned out to be a false version of those events later asked to correct the record, his widow told a inquest about his death . by suicide.
Over three hours on Monday, Sheila Lemaitre told the inquest that some of the information her husband, RCMP sergeant Pierre Lemaitre, had given the media was wrong, but was ordered not to correct it. As a result, he was accused of being "the liar of the RCMP" and "the rotating physician of the RCMP." Later, he was transferred to the traffic division, a move seen as a transfer of punishment, she said.
The situation exacerbated the depression with which he had lived for some time, his wife said.
Sergeant Lemaitre died of suicide on July 29, 2013. He was 55 years old.
Lemaitre said that the force portrayed her husband as a "rotten apple" and used it as a scapegoat when, in fact, he wanted very much to correct the misinformation.
"At one point, he was almost shouting," I want to fix it, I mean to them, "and he was not allowed," she said. "He was commanded not to do this."
His pride lost in his work, his personality changed, and he became physically abusive, sometimes pushing his wife to the ground and choking her.
"He could not explain why he was so angry," Lemaitre said, "but he knew there was a rage in his head that was burning his brain – and he could not control it."
In the days leading up to his death, Lemaitre said, he did several errands she had been "troubling" him. He bought extra bags of dog food, bought some of a neighbor's hand-carts from fertilizer, and filled several large jugs with water.
She initially thought it was an indication that he was feeling better, but in retrospect he acknowledged that he was preparing to take his own life.
"He was just making sure I would look good a little," she said.
The coroner's inquiry is scheduled to last several days. The jury will hear evidence from witnesses and may then make recommendations aimed at preventing deaths in similar circumstances.
Lemaitre told coroner Vincent Stancato and a five-person jury that her husband was proud to be a Mountie and had a reputation for going the extra mile to help others. That changed after the airport incident.
Mr. Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant who did not speak English, came to Canada to live with his mother, but got lost and wandered around the airport for ten hours. He finally started playing furniture in the landing area and was stunned with a Taser seconds after the cops arrived at the scene. He died on the airport floor.
Sergeant Lemaitre initially said that Dziekanski was stunned with a Taser twice, when in fact he was stunned five times. The initial report also said police officers used the Taser only to "immobilize the violent man," but the viewer's video challenged this story.
All four Mounties who responded to the incident were charged with perjury. Two were convicted and two were acquitted.
In 2015, Ms. Lemaitre filed a lawsuit against the Attorney General of Canada and the BC. Minister of Justice for the actions of the Mounties; was settled in July through mediation. His lawyer said he could not comment on the deal.
Walter Kosteckyj, the Dziekanski family's lawyer, attended Monday's proceedings to show his support for Ms. Lemaitre. He remembered questioning the sergeant. Lemaitre during the inquiry into the death of Mr. Dziekanski, as well as a brief conversation that the two had in particular afterwards.
"I came out thinking that this was a completely decent man who was put in a very difficult position and unable to clear the record when he wanted," Kosteckyj told reporters. "He asked me to extend my apologies to my client, Zofia Cisowski [Mr. Dziekanski’s mother], so that she would know that he himself did not take part in the attempt to deceive the public or the media about the events. "
He added that the sergeant seemed "very, very annoyed at not being able to be sincere, that he felt he had been hung up to dry."