MONTREAL — The family of a Quebec woman murdered by her ex-boyfriend has filed a lawsuit against the local police department alleging that officers failed to follow basic standards, directly leading to her death.
Daphné Huard-Boudreault, 18, was killed by her ex-boyfriend, Anthony Pratte-Lops, in March, 2017, as she attempted to retrieve items she had left at his Mont-St-Hilaire, Que., apartment.
A police officer had said she would accompany Huard-Boudreault to the apartment, but arrived after Huard-Boudreault was already dead.
The lawsuit, filed in Quebec Superior Court, alleges that was the last in a series of failures by police officers on the day of the killing.
"According to the family, the police officers directly involved downplayed the seriousness of her ex-partner's behaviour and failed to take numerous elements into account in order to evaluate how dangerous the situation was, including the fact that Daphné had been subjected to severe harassment by her ex-partner in the hours before her murder," Virginie Dufresne-Lemire, a lawyer for the family, said in a news release Monday.
The suit, filed at the Longueuil, Que., courthouse by Huard-Boudreault's father, mother, siblings and stepmother alleges that officers from the Régie intermunicipale de police Richelieu-Saint-Laurent failed to apply a domestic violence policy that could have led to the arrest of Pratte-Lops earlier in the day.
That policy allows officers to arrest a domestic violence suspect if they believe a crime has been committed, whether or not the victim wishes to file a complaint.
On two occasions on the day of her murder, police asked Huard-Boudreault if she wished to file a complaint against Pratte-Lops, but she declined.
The first came after he broke into her car early that morning and waited for her.
Not wanting to be late for work, she got into the vehicle and drove to the convenience store where she worked. During that trip, he stole her cellphone.
After she arrived at the store, she called 911.
Four police officers ultimately responded. While officers saw Pratte-Lops yell at Huard-Boudreault and insult her -- and one officer physically blocked Pratte-Lops from entering the store -- they allowed him to leave in a taxi, the lawsuit alleges.
The second incident occurred hours later, after Pratte-Lops used Huard-Boudreault's phone to post insulting videos on her Facebook page and send threatening messages to another man she'd started seeing.
Huard-Boudreault went to a police station and while officers asked her if she wished to file a complaint for harassment, she said no.
The suit claims that those actions, along with the fact that Pratte-Lops told police he didn't want to be home when Huard-Boudreault came to pick up her things but that he didn't want her to be accompanied by an officer, should have been considered by police.
In testimony before the police ethics board, officers said they didn't believe they were dealing with a domestic violence case because Huard-Boudreault had no injuries and hadn't received specific threats, according to the lawsuit.
The suit also alleges that the police force "failed to supervise its employees, even though it was fully aware that its domestic violence intervention policies were being applied in an inadequate and non-compliant manner."
The allegations in the lawsuit have not been tested in court.
The family is seeking more than $1 million in damages. The police department said it could not comment on the lawsuit because it is before the courts.
In April, Quebec's police ethics board cleared two of the officers involved, including the officer who was supposed to accompany Huard-Boudreault to her ex-boyfriend's apartment, of violating the police ethics code.
Pratte-Lops pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree murder in 2019 and was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 18 years.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2023.
Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press