Blue Line

Parents of Quebec City man accused of murder say police ignored their warnings

April 12, 2022  By The Canadian Press

Apr. 8, 2022, Quebec City, Que. – The parents of a man accused of violently killing a 65-year-old man on a Quebec City street reached out to police in the days prior to the murder to alert them of their son’s mental health problems, a lawyer said Friday.

Marc Bellemare, who represents the parents of the accused, said the family received “zero” support from police after they initially called on Monday to report that their son, Kim Lebel, was experiencing a mental health crisis.

“They were not believed by the police and the police did nothing,” Bellemare said in a phone interview.

Lebel, 30, is facing a second-degree murder charge in the April 6 death of 65-year-old Jacques Cote.

On Friday, Quebec’s police watchdog launched an investigation into the actions of Quebec City police in the matter, citing “new information.”

The Bureau des enquetes independantes said in a news release that one of the suspect’s parents called Quebec City police two days before Wednesday’s incident to express concern about him.

The parents told police their son had “left in crisis on his bike and had been making rambling and incoherent remarks for some time,” the watchdog said. Police met the 30-year-old man and “determined his behaviour did not require immediate intervention,” the release said.

Bellemare said the parents tried again with police before obtaining a court order on their own for a psychiatric evaluation for Lebel on April 6, the day of the murder.

However, Lebel allegedly began attacking people on the street before the court order could be carried out, resulting in Cote’s death.

Bellemare said Lebel’s father witnessed the attack as he returned from dropping off the court order at the police station, adding that he was the one to subdue his son before police arrived.

In a letter sent to Public Safety Minister Genevieve Guilbault on Thursday, Bellemare urged the minister to ask the watchdog to look into the actions of Quebec City police, saying the force should not investigate its own officers. He accused police of failing to act quickly on several occasions, including the day of the attack.

“It seems clear to us that (Quebec City) police, at different stages in the story, seriously underestimated the level of dangerousness of Kim Lebel,” he wrote. “Our clients weren’t heard or taken seriously.”

The letter said Lebel had experienced mental health problems since his teens.

Bellemare said his clients are hoping the investigation will lead to changes in the way police treat mental health calls.

“When credible parents say, ‘my child is having trouble, I’m scared for him, I’m scared for me,’ we have to get them examined,” he said.

Bellemare said the parents haven’t decided whether to pursue other legal action.

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