Thousands of police officers from across Canada gather in Trois-Rivières, Que., to mourn slain SQ officer

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Wall of police officers in blue and black.

When Quebec provincial police officers followed Sgt. Maureen Breau’s funeral procession to the basilica in Trois-Rivières, Que. Thursday, their quiet walk turned into a march and the crowd outside the church began clapping.

The funeral of Breau, the Sûreté du Québec police officer who was stabbed and killed during an arrest two weeks ago, was held today after a three-kilometer procession that included thousands of mourning officers.

Breau was a veteran provincial police officer with more than 20 years of experience. She was stabbed as she and her colleague read a man his rights before arresting him. Breau’s colleague was also injured.

The man, 35-year-old Isaac Brouillard Lessard, was shot dead when two other police officers arrived.

Led by bagpipers, a procession of about 4,000 police officers from across the country and the eastern United States began following the funeral procession under the warm April sun just before 1 p.m. Thursday.

Their somber procession began at the Complexe Sportif Alphonse-Desjardins and culminated at the Basilica of the Shrine of Notre-Dame Du Cap on the St. Lawrence River.

Montreal police officers attend the funeral procession for their colleague from the Surete du Québec, Sgt. Maureen Breau, killed last month during an arrest in Louiseville, Que. (Ivanoh Demers/CBC)

Breau family members – including her two young children, Khéraly and Emrick, and her partner Daniel Sanscartier, also an SQ officer – were seen behind the hearse in black vehicles.

An officer walking behind held Breau’s peaked cap on a pillow. People lined the street in front of the basilica to watch.

A screen outside the basilica broadcast the ceremony to officers and reporters outside.

Sergeant Véronique Nadeau, a close friend and colleague of Breau’s, struggled to deliver her speech. She said she and Breau should have worked together three days after her death.

“There wasn’t a day I worked with you that felt like work. I was just excited to have coffee with my boyfriend,” Nadeau said. “You were my best friend, a sister … You cared so much about this career that cost you your life.”

Breau’s locker was stuffed with photos of her children and Sanscartier, Nadeau said and turned to the three: “You were everything for Maureen. She was so proud.”

Quebec Police Officers Association President Jacques Painchaud called Breau’s death “an unnamed tragedy.”

Two officers in brown wear velvet cushions with peaked caps and medal caskets.Two officers from the Sûreté du Québec participate in a funeral procession for Sgt. Maureen Breau, killed in the line of duty in March 2023. (Ivanoh Demers/CBC)

“Maureen was a spontaneous, dynamic person who was full of energy. She has dedicated her professional life to keeping the public safe,” he said, getting emotional.

Quebec Lieutenant Governor J. Michel Doyon said: “Ms. Breau’s death is a reminder that despite their dedication, despite their dedication, these men and women are first and foremost people who are dealing with difficult, dangerous and sometimes dangerous.” Conditions.”

Lise Gilbert, 65, and Robert St-Jean, 66, sat on folding chairs near the basilica. Her daughter Joëlle, a Sûreté du Québec (SQ) officer and police academy instructor, was among the officers marching in celebration.

“As parents, that always worries us. It’s something that’s very close to us,” St-Jean said.

Gilbert said her daughter was friends with the officer who was working with Breau that night, and who was seriously injured.

“It could have been our daughter,” Gilbert said. Both parents are retired health care professionals specializing in mental health. They said they wanted the justice system to take more action before releasing people with mental health problems back into the public eye.

The couple had heard about suspect Isaac Brouillard Lessard a few years ago from a psychiatrist friend who had been assaulted by him, the couple said.

A smiling woman and a man in deckchairs near a church.Lise Gilbert, left, and Robert St-Jean were there to see Sgt. Breau but also to see their daughter, also an SQ officer, marching in the parade. As a cop’s parent, it’s “something that comes close,” St-Jean said. (Verity Stevenson/CBC)

Nearby, two retired SQ officers, Laurier Grandbois, 80, and Henri Deschênes, 81, sat at a bus stop.

They had happened to see each other outside the basilica.

“It really affects us,” said Grandbois, who was with the force for 25 years. “In the end I had seen enough,” he said.

Being outside of the ceremony, Grandbois said, brought back many close memories.

He told of a robbery in the 1970s when he and a colleague were shot at. His colleague was hit in the shoulder.

“I didn’t know at that point if he was alive or dead,” he said. “It makes me cry.”

Deschênes said he heard Breau was trying to protect her colleague when she was killed.

“She was brave,” he said.

Two gray-haired men sit on a bench and look at the camera.Henri Deschênes (left) and Laurier Grandbois (right) were SQ officers in the Major Crimes Unit in the 1970s and 1980s. They said attending the funeral brought back memories of dangerous situations they’ve been in in their careers. (Verity Stevenson/Radio Canada)

An online obituary says Breau was close to her 43rd birthday and that she had two children with her longtime partner Daniel Sanscartier, an investigator with the SQ. According to TVA, Breau was days away from starting a new job as an investigator.

Breau’s death is the first in 33 years in the Sûreté du Quebec. Sixty-seven others died before that, said Quebec Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault.

“It’s an extraordinary and dangerous life choice,” Guilbault said.

The suspect had an extensive criminal history

Lessard, the man suspected in Breau’s death, has a long history with the criminal justice system.

He has faced multiple charges of making threats and assault over the past decade.

In three separate trials, he was found not criminally responsible for his actions because of a mental illness. In 2021, he pleaded guilty to the assault and was conditionally released, receiving two years of probation and 200 hours of community service.

Yvon Deshaies, the mayor of Louiseville, said last week he hopes the inquest will shed light on whether Lessard received adequate treatment after he was found not criminally responsible.

“Who treated him, who didn’t treat him?” asked Lessard. “That’s what we want to know. Who hasn’t done their job? We want to talk to these people.”

The Quebec government is conducting a public inquiry into Breau’s death.

Watch | Police officers from across the country attend the funeral of Sgt. Maureen Breau:

Tears shed and thousands of officers march in step to honor the fallen “hero”.

Trois-Rivières, Que., was home to a sea of ​​uniformed officers as a funeral was held for Sûreté du Québec officer and mother-of-two Maureen Breau, who had been killed in an arrest two weeks earlier.

The Quebec Provincial Police Officers Association, led by Painchaud, started a petition shortly after Breau’s death, calling for an information-sharing protocol to let officers know of a person’s potentially dangerous medical history before they interact.

Public Security Minister François Bonnardel said he was looking into whether something like this was legally feasible.

Breau became the eighth police officer killed in Canada in the past seven months. Last week, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police requested an urgent meeting with Canada’s prime minister to discuss bail reform and recent officer killings.

Last month, Const. Brett Ryan and Const. Travis Jordan was fatally shot by a 16-year-old boy in Edmonton as they responded to a family dispute.