Carpentier affair: specialist walkers still “frustrated” with the events
Sûreté du Québec police officers in Saint-Apollinaire in July 2020.
Two and a half years after being dispatched to Saint-Apollinaire to find Martin Carpentier and his daughters, retired police officer André Bernard gave a shocking testimony fist as part of the coroner's public inquest. For him, there is no doubt that the loss of expertise caused by the restructuring of the specialized units of the SQ had a major impact on the July 2020 operation.
André Bernard was one of the most experienced ground search police officers deployed in Saint-Apollinaire on the morning of July 9, 2020. It was he who, three days later, with his team, discovered the bodies of the two girls, Norah and Romey. Their father, Martin Carpentier, killed them with a violent blow to the head with a branch before taking his own life.
When he arrived on the scene from Mascouche around 9:00 a.m., André Bernard had very little information about what to look for. It was only off road and the driver went into the woods. Is this a hit and run? We don't know, he testified on the eighth day of hearings for the coroner's public inquest into the girls' deaths.
Did you know there are two children, the coroner asked then. We hear bits and pieces. It comes from hearsay, replied the policeman bluntly.
On July 9, the research technician assigned him to a section of wooded area north of the highway, around 10 a.m. The searches prove fruitless.
In the afternoon, he is sent with his team to the south of the highway. Around mid-afternoon, a patroller assigned to his line of march noticed a footprint in a muddy area, which resembled that of a sandal. It is at this moment, for him, that he has confirmation that the children are with their father.
Shortly after, another footprint, that of a child, is found by patrollers. Mr. Bernard goes to this last footprint with a dog handler.
Police are concentrating their search near rang Saint-Lazare, in Saint-Apollinaire. (File photo)
Due to the night and the fact that the dog handler was unable to track, a decision was made to abandon the search.
It becomes the last known point, the small footprint […]. If someone had told me at the end of the evening that the children are in danger, you would say: "Are you continuing at night?" I would have. For the kids, I would have had no problem [continuing]. But it takes staff. I have to start again the next morning.
The next day, his search team is redirected to Rue Veilleux, nearly 8 km from the discovery of the last trace. Screams were heard. This was a plausible lead for investigators.
He spent a good part of the day combing this large search area.
Even today, André Bernard is still unable to explain this reorientation. He says he advised colleagues, including the research technician, to look elsewhere.
“We should be at the last known point the day before. We have no business here! The strategy in research is always the 300 m from the last known point or last seen point. It's the training, it's the experience, it's the way it should be. »
— André Bernard, retired from the Sûreté du Québec
Police officer André Bernard had participated in dozens of field searches before his retirement from the Sûreté du Québec, in 2020.
The discovery of Romy and Norah Carpentier, on July 11 at the end of the morning, was discussed. It was policeman Martin Boulanger, who was on the same line of march as André Bernard, who first discovered Norah's body.
Very emotional during his testimony, the police officer recounted the shock experienced by the search team.
He testified that he quickly manipulated Norah's body to check if she was alive. Obviously she was dead. I put my hand on her, she was cold.
Martin Boulanger discovered the body of Norah Carpentier on July 11, 2020.
Romy was discovered in about twenty meters from his sister.
I think I missed my mark, remembers André Bernard. I was so tabaslakfor finding the girls […] I can't believe we missed it. I would have ripped someone's head off for losing 24 hours on Friday.
For André Bernard, it's the reorganization of the measurement division. emergency, in 2019, which led to this staffing shortage in July 2020.
He claims that this situation has led to a significant loss of expertise. All the expertise we had was lost. A lot, a lot, a lot, before 2020, before closing, it was part of our job, to practice GPS, manipulation, make boxes. With the new system, that was no longer done, no practice, no training, he adds.
He also denounces a lack of valuation of the Sûreté du Québec for specialized walkers. If there is no recognition at the level of the research specialty and even if we increase the number of staff, if you are not recognized, you never hear about research people because it is not specialists are the unloved, he told the coroner.
Recall that in February 2019, the management of the SQ announced the abolition of the permanent emergency units which are based at three points of service: Mascouche, Saint-Hubert and Quebec.
The approximately 70 police officers trained, trained, equipped and specialized in ground search were affected by this closure. The objective of the management is in particular to deploy them in motorway stations, testifies André Bernard.
This became the Emergency Response Module. The teams are still based in Quebec, Saint-Hubert and Mascouche, but they are reduced to a minimum, according to André Bernard.
The SQ has always wanted to close the emergency room. What kept him alive were the big events. Every time he wanted to close it, something big happened that justified the presence of the emergency. When nothing happens, it's always the police, too much.
A scene investigator and a forensic identification officer also testified on Thursday.
The testimonies of Pierre Luc Brisson and Marco Cloutier showed that 25 scenes were analyzed between July 8 and July 20, from the accident to the discovery of the body of Martin Carpentier. Among them, less than seven scenes proved conclusive.
The two witnesses explained that Martin would have passed through a trailer, located further north where the two girls were killed.
Des objects found at the scene of the crime made it possible to prove that Martin Carpentier did indeed enter this trailer. However, the investigation does not allow, according to the witnesses, to demonstrate that the two girls were physically in this vehicle.
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