SQ officer who fatally shot teen in Ste-Adèle sentenced to 4 years

Éric Deslauriers, 46, was given his sentence at the Montreal courthouse Thursday morning.

A Sûreté du Québec officer convicted of manslaughter for fatally shooting a 17-year-old in 2014 was sentenced to four years in prison Thursday — the minimum sentence possible for the crime.

Éric Deslauriers, 46, was found guilty last September following a two-week trial.

On the morning of Jan. 22, 2014, Deslauriers was patrolling Ste-Adèle in search of a stolen vehicle police believed was linked to a series of ATM robberies. He found the car entering a high school parking lot, where the 17-year-old driver, David Lacour, was dropping off two other teens.

Deslauriers followed the car into the lot and positioned his patrol car to block the stolen vehicle from driving off. He got out of his car, unholstered his gun and pointed it toward Lacour. While approaching, he asked him to lift his hands from the steering wheel.

The entire incident lasted less than a minute. Lacour revved the car’s engine and started driving forward. Deslauriers fired a first shot, hitting Lacour in his left elbow. The car continued ahead. As it passed near Deslauriers, the officer fired a second and fatal shot, hitting Lacour in his neck. The car then crashed into a snowbank.

During his trial, Deslauriers’s defence argued he only fired his weapon in self-defence, believing Lacour was attempting to run him over. But a witness said the car wasn’t heading toward Deslauriers, and the court ruled a video presented, which captured the moments following the first gunshot, was “unambiguous” and showed the same.

On Thursday, Judge Joëlle Roy sentenced Deslauriers to a four-year prison term and ordered him not to own any firearms for 10 years. The sentence matched a joint recommendation by the defence and the Crown. The charge carried a maximum life sentence and a minimum four-year sentence upon conviction.

While delivering her decision, Roy noted Deslauriers had no previous criminal record but listed several aggravating factors weighing against him.

As a police officer, she said, Deslauriers knew how to handle his weapon. He also fired two shots, the judge said, aimed for an unarmed victim’s head and shoulders and opened fire in a busy school parking lot in the middle of the day.

The judge also noted Deslauriers, who briefly testified during his sentencing hearing, showed no regrets or remorse for the victim. In court, Deslauriers said he didn’t want to take a life that day, but wanted to save his.

Though Roy said Deslauriers was maybe hesitant to express too much because of the pending appeal, choosing to testify, she said, “is also choosing your words.”

“It is possible to express regret for the consequences of one’s actions on others without giving up your right to a full defence,” Roy said.

After the sentence was pronounced, Deslauriers, who was out on bail, was escorted from a seat in the courtroom to the prisoner’s box and toward detention. A packed courtroom looked on, including several people wiping tears from their eyes.

“Good luck, Mr. Deslauriers,” Roy added before leaving her bench. 

The defence is appealing Deslauriers’s conviction, and refused to comment on the sentence Thursday.

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Twitter.com/jessefeith

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