The police pointed the finger

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A young retiree was murdered after Trois-Rivières police downplayed repeated complaints from a female victim of domestic violence.

Josée Laurendeau came close to death on October 8, 2020 when gun projectiles shattered his patio door. Her new husband was less fortunate. Hit by four bullets in the abdomen and head, Mario Lalonde succumbed to his injuries a week later.

Recently retired, the 58-year-old golf maniac had many good years ahead of him. But the man who hoped so much to be a grandfather did not have the chance to meet his granddaughter Eve, born 10 months after his death.

The father of the family was killed by Claude Bergeron, the ex-husband controlling and jealous of Josée Laurendeau, who then turned the gun on him. 

The vehicle of her ex-husband, whose escape ended when he hit a truck, the October 8, 2020.

Known issue

Using documents and testimonies, our Bureau of Investigation was able to trace the disturbing thread of the events that led to this murder.

According to those close to Mario Lalonde, this tragedy was avoidable (< em>see other text). We discovered that the Trois-Rivières police had visited Ms. Laurendeau's home on multiple occasions in the weeks leading up to the murder.

So often in fact, that on the final 911 call, officers identified the potential suspect without hesitation over the radio waves.

Assault with a weapon, mischief, breaking and entering, identity theft: four complaints had been filed against Claude Bergeron in 11 days, without his being arrested or questioned.

“There are several things that would have had to raise red flags,” said former Montreal police inspector André Durocher.

Ms. Laurendeau does not seem to have been taken seriously, based on the reports of the police officers involved, of which we have obtained a copy.

“Josée filed a complaint, and it ended in murder and suicide. The police took it lightly. They could have saved two lives and several injuries,” illustrates his friend Gilles Laferrière, himself a former Montreal police officer.

The killer Claude Bergeron.

Changing mentalities

The 57-year-old lady agreed to confide in our Bureau of Investigation in the hope of changing police mentalities so that no other woman live the same trauma as her.

After 16 years together, she had decided to end her relationship with Claude Bergeron in the winter of 2020. 

 “I learned that he was cheating on me with lots of women. I confronted him and he admitted it to me. I said, “It's over.” He said to me: “There is no one but me who is going to be with you. I'm going to make you disappear,'” she describes.

From then on, Bergeron would have become completely paranoid, according to a couple who knows the three people involved.

“Claude was starting to be scary. He followed Josée everywhere,” says Caroline Labelle.

“He completely changed when she left him, he freaked out,” adds her husband, Gérard Cyr.

Josée Laurendeau and Mario Lalonde , in the months preceding the crime.

Four complaints in 11 days were not taken seriously

The police had several opportunities to arrest Claude Bergeron before he committed a murder< /p>

■ May 2004: Josée Laurendeau meets Claude Bergeron. 

■ Winter 2020: Informed of several infidelities, Josée ends her relationship with Claude while they are in Florida. She meets Mario Lalonde at the same time. It was love at first sight on both sides.

■ March 2020: Claude tries to win back Josée, who maintains her position. He puts a knife to her throat. Rambo, Josée's German shepherd, intervenes. Claude threatens to commit suicide and is hospitalized.

According to our sources, staff note that Josée is a “victim of domestic violence”, that Claude's control over her is “major” and that there is a “significant risk” that she is in danger. < /p>

■ Summer 2020: Claude refuses to leave the house. He is not well and is visibly losing weight. Fearful, Josée spends her weekends with Mario, in the Laurentians.

■ September 22, 2020: Claude files a complaint for vehicle theft and theft of more than $200,000 in cash. He suspects Josée, who firmly denies it. Claude tells the police that Josée must buy back her share of the residence. However, a simple check in the land register would have revealed that the house has only belonged to Josée since the purchase in 2011.

The policeman did not meet Josée, but concluded “that he is obvious [that she] has a connection with the theft”.

■ September 24, 2020: Josée thinks she sees Claude with a weapon. She speeds off with her car, but doesn't get far, because sugar has been put in her oil. Damage over $5,000.

The same day, Claude signs a holographic will in which he bequeaths all his property to his brother Yves, rather than to Josée. This document is contested in the Superior Court.

The engine oil of Josée Laurendeau's vehicle looked like maple syrup when sugar was added to it.

■ September 27, 2020: Josée finds her house completely empty. She files a complaint against Claude and describes to a police officer the violence of which she was the victim. Josée wants Claude to leave her home, but the agent says he cannot evict him. 

Josée clarifies that Claude has weapons. After checking with the Quebec Police Information Center, the officer noted that no weapon was registered in his name. He does not push his research further. The policeman believes it is “a story of revenge”. 

“In this case, I doubt the credibility and the reason for filing a complaint with Madame. On the one hand, she wants to file a complaint about situations that happened about five months ago when they would have been justified in calling us at the time. In addition, she mentions being afraid of Mr., however, she has lived with him in a separate room since the armed attack [sic].

In her first statement to the police, Josée Laurendeau mentioned several times that she was afraid of her ex-spouse.

■ September 30, 2020: Claude breaks into Josée's house through a basement window. A neighbor witnesses the scene. The police went to the scene, but no report was made at the time.

A policeman noted: “Advice given to the lady and referred to the civil”.

“We sees that [Claude] is able to walk the talk, it escalates. Why did the police not arrest him at that time for a judge to impose conditions on him? Maybe they had good reasons, but that deserves an explanation,” says former Montreal police inspector André Durocher.

The same day, Claude mentions to a neighbor that he has lost everything, in reference to his relationship and the alleged theft of $200,000. 

He adds that if there is no result in the police investigation, he was going to solve the problem himself, because he had nothing more to lose.

It was the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) who met this witness, after the murder.

■ October 3, 2020: Discouraged, Josée seeks advice from a lawyer. 

■ October 5, 2020: Josée says she saw Claude prowling around her home. Around 3:30 p.m., her friend Gérard Cyr convinces her to call 911, even though she has lost confidence. No patrol is coming. 

Josée's lawyer leaves a message for an investigator, and mentions an ethics complaint. 

“Call the police myself because that my client is not taken seriously, I had never done that in my 25-year career,” notes Me Nancy Provencher.

Mr. Cyr then turned to the Sûreté du Québec and requested the intervention of another police force. 

While he was on the line with the SQ, Josée received a call from the Trois-Rivières police. 

Two officers finally arrived at the scene, around 8:40 p.m. Josée's vehicle was transferred to Claude's name without her knowledge. She files a complaint for identity theft.

■ October 6, 2020: Claude shows up at Josée's with two police officers to collect some belongings. Josée refuses him access and contacts his lawyer. 

A patrol officer advises Josée that she may be charged with obstruction. Me Provencher intervenes and asks the police to leave the home.

Me Provencher receives a call from a lieutenant. 

Two days before the tragedy, Claude Bergeron went to Ms. Laurendeau accompanied by police to recover property.

He tells her that he has “several domestic violence cases to deal with and that the madam's case does not seem urgent, because the facts related are not recent”.

However, in matters of domestic violence, the police must not only “ensure the safety and protection of the [victim] and his relatives”, but also assess the risk of homicide, according to the Guide to police practices of the Ministère de la Public security.

■ October 7, 2020: Josée meets with an investigator. His testimony is filmed. She talks again about the break and enter and the sugar in her vehicle.

■ October 8, 2020: Around 12:20 p.m., a detective sergeant called Claude. He wants to meet him concerning a complaint made by Josée. 

Without waiting to have him face to face, he “explains to him on the telephone that a promise to appear with conditions of release will be issued…”

“Why tell him in advance about the promise? It's as if the investigator had already drawn his conclusions before even speaking to him,” analyzes André Durocher.

Instead of going to the station, Claude goes to Josée's with a weapon. It was a prohibited weapon in Canada, which was therefore not registered.

He knocks Mario out with a metal pipe, and fires in his direction. He then tries to kill Josée and her dog. Claude flees by car. The scene is filmed. Claude stamps a delivery truck. Surrounded by patrol officers, he turns the gun on himself.

In his residence in Sainte-Ursule, the police find a letter dated the same day stipulating “that he will settle this today around 3 a.m., it has gone too far” and that he will “set the record straight. 'time'.

The Sûreté du Québec is in charge of the murder and the Independent Investigations Bureau (BEI) is evaluating the police intervention.

After the murder of October 8, 2020, the police set up a command post in the vicinity.

■ March 2021: Complaint filed in police ethics. She is still undergoing treatment to this day.

■ July 2021: The BEI submits its full report to the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP).

■ July 2022: The DPCP announces that no criminal charges will be laid against the Trois-Rivières police officers .

The Trois-Rivières police refused our interview request “so as not to interfere with the legal proceedings that could be undertaken before the Ethics Committee”.

“There is someone who has not done his job”

Maxime and Andréanne Lalonde are categorical: the death of their father Mario could have been avoided.

“The police showed up there three or four times before the events and, in the end, there was no nothing that has been done. There's really something fishy in there”, drops the eldest.

“There is someone who hasn't done his job somewhere”, adds his sister.< /p>

Although it won't bring them back their “dad”, Maxime and Andréanne Lalonde confided in our Bureau of Investigation in the hope of obtaining the answers they've been waiting for for two years.

Same story with Mario Lalonde's best friend.

“What I find hard is that there were complaints and nothing happened. The police were aware, they did not move, they waited for it to happen and it was too late, “laments Ghislain D'Amours, who describes the victim as his” brother “for the past 40 years.

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Those close to Mr. Lalonde want the actions of the Trois-Rivières police to be scrutinized and their domestic violence procedure reviewed.

Criminal negligence?

“Is not doing your job right, and it results in the death of a man, criminal negligence?” We are not talking about a situation where the police had to make a decision in half a second, ”argues Maxime Lalonde.

According to the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP), “in light of the information obtained, it appears that the evidence does not reveal the commission of a criminal offence”.

“Let us remember that it is not It is not up to the prosecutor mandated to study an investigation report to rule on a possible civil or ethical fault, ”continues the spokesperson, Me Audrey Roy-Cloutier. 

But the DPCP had- Is he in hand with all the elements or only those for the day of October 8, 2020?

“We took into account previous events as well. This was part of the investigation report that we submitted to the DPCP,” says Guy Lapointe, spokesperson for the Independent Investigations Bureau.

So what options do the family have to obtain answers?

A public coroner's inquest would be possible, but it is not currently being considered. 

A police ethics complaint was filed a year ago and a half, but nothing is moving.

Maxime Lalonde has even considered the possibility of a private criminal prosecution. 

“The investigation must not be abandoned there. he concludes.

Do you have information on a police investigation? Contact me confidentially at claudia.berthiaume@quebecormedia.com

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