Sherbrooke Police: Now and Forever The Keystone Cops
Sherbrooke sued over murder
Family of Julie Boisvenu says police officers’ lax investigation let predator stay on street
September 27, 2005
If police officers had diligently done their job on June 23, 2002, Hugo Bernier would have been arrested, sparing Julie Boisvenu from a horrific fate, the murdered woman’s family alleges in a lawsuit filed yesterday against the city of Sherbrooke.
The suit launched by Boisvenu’s parents and her brother and sister seeks $235,000 in damages.
The statement of claim focuses on two encounters Bernier had with Sherbrooke police officers on the night the 27-year-old woman disappeared after being out on the town with friends. She was celebrating a job promotion.
Her body was discovered six days later in a ditch outside Sherbrooke.
Bernier was found guilty in October of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
In the lawsuit, the Boisvenu family says they learned details at Bernier’s trial about action taken by police officers in the hours before Boisvenu was kidnapped, raped and murdered.
The statement of claim notes that about 3:15 a.m. on June 23, 2002, police officers Alex Therrien and Carl Lamoureux checked a suspicious-looking man who was hiding behind the steering wheel of a car in a parking lot.
The man, who told them he didn’t have identification or the keys to the vehicle, said he was waiting for Hugo Bernier, the car’s owner.
The lawsuit contends the suspicious situation should have prompted the officers to check with the Canadian Police Information Centre. They would have learned Bernier was a predator on probation for sexual assault and in breach of his probation conditions.
It adds that such a check would have provided police with Bernier’s physical description, allowing them to realize the man in the car was him.
Bernier then was spotted standing in a parking lot at 3:55 a.m., and hurried to climb into the back seat of a car where he pretended to be asleep, according to the statement of claim. It alleges he told officers Eric Lebel and Eric Beaudoin he was waiting for his brother Hugo Bernier.
The officers checked whether the vehicle was stolen, then left after Bernier told them he didn’t have the car keys.
The lawsuit contends routine checks with the Centre de renseignements policiers du Quebec would have alerted the officers to the fact the same car had been checked 45 minutes before and the same man had been questioned.
The family wouldn’t comment yesterday on the legal action. A lawyer for Sherbrooke also declined to comment.