MONTREAL — A Quebec man accused of killing a provincial police officer had a history of mental health issues and had been found not criminally responsible at least five times for past offences.
Isaac Brouillard Lessard, 35, was shot dead by police after he allegedly fatally attacked Sgt. Maureen Breau on Monday evening and left her partner injured in Louiseville, Que., about 100 kilometres northeast of Montreal.
Brouillard Lessard had been followed closely by Quebec's mental health review board, called Commission d'examen des troubles mentaux du Québec, composed of health experts who assess the risks posed by people found by courts to be not criminally responsible — or legally insane at the time they committed a crime.
Yanick Péloquin, who represented Brouillard Lessard during a hearing before the mental health board in 2022, said in an email Wednesday that his client was due to appear again in May for an annual review.
The review board found in March 2022 that Brouillard Lessard posed a "significant risk to public safety" — a determination included in every decision it issued about him — but it said that the risk could be adequately controlled if he would be properly monitored.
That March 2022 decision is one of several issued by the board about Brouillard Lessard since 2014, shortly after the first time a court found him not criminally responsible in a case in which he harassed and threatened relatives.
Court records show that Brouillard Lessard had been the subject of five not criminally responsible verdicts since 2014 for a variety of charges, including assault, assault with a weapon and uttering threats against a doctor and other health workers. He was detained from 2018 to 2019 in a hospital and then at a residential centre until the board ordered his release in November 2020.
In ordering his release, the review board said "the accused continues to represent, due to his mental state, a significant risk to public safety," but it said he could be released if he remained under adequate supervision. The board in 2022 maintained its decision to release him.
The board said in its 2022 decision that Brouillard Lessard suffered from schizoaffective disorder, which produces symptoms such as hallucinations or delusions. The board said he was in complete remission from amphetamine use disorder and in partial remission from cannabis use disorder.
"Over the long term, the accused has a long history of psychotic illness which resulted in delusions that remained present for long periods and a history of violent acts in psychosis involving even members of the treatment team and the defendant's psychiatrist," the 2022 ruling noted.
The review board said that during Brouillard Lessard's testimony to the panel hearing his case, he trivialized his health problems.
"He does not admit to having any mental illness," the ruling said, referring to a "blatant lack of self-criticism on the part of the accused." The board said it was likely he would not seek treatment without supervision.
Brouillard Lessard was under probation at the time he was alleged to have killed Breau, having pleaded guilty to a 2021 assault in Trois-Rivières, Que. In April 2022, he was given a conditional discharge and sentenced to 200 hours of community service and two years probation.
Two parallel investigations are underway involving Brouillard Lessard's alleged attack on Breau and her partner.
One is being conducted by the province's police watchdog — Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes — which investigates when a civilian is killed or injured by police. A parallel criminal investigation into the death of Breau and the attack on her colleague is being conducted by Montreal police.
The police watchdog said in a statement that Breau was stabbed after she and her partner tried to arrest a suspect at around 8:30 p.m. on Monday for uttering threats. Breau was allegedly attacked while the accused was being read his rights.
The head of the provincial police union told reporters Tuesday that Breau, a sergeant with more than 20 years experience on the force, was due for a promotion in four days.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 29, 2023.
Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press