‘Profound regret’: RCMP apologizes to New Brunswick families after wrong body ID

Codiac Regional RCMP have released a statement apologizing for incorrectly identifying a body and notifying a family their son had died, when in fact he was alive.

In a statement Friday, Supt. Benoit Jolette said he wanted to “express our profound regret and sincere apologies” for the incorrect next-of-kin notification.

“I know this will have deep and lasting impacts on both families involved, as well as on the wider community,” he said.

Jolette said he had “spoken with the families to offer my apologies personally.”

Donna Price from Dieppe, N.B., told Global News late last week that on Nov. 22, RCMP knocked on her door around 1:30 a.m. and gave the news that her son was dead.

Price and her son’s stepfather David were in “shock” and spent the early hours of the morning informing family members, including her elderly parents and her son’s father and stepmother. That same afternoon, a third party went to her son’s residence to collect some belongings and paperwork, and that’s when Price got a call, saying her son was at his home, alive.

When Price contacted the RCMP to let them know, she said she was shocked by the response.

“I was not greeted with an over-sympathetic ear. I was dumbfounded by the lack of consideration,” she alleged.

Price has said she plans to pursue legal action against the RCMP. Lawyer with Forté Law Brian Murphy said the RCMP was negligent and failed to take the steps to identify the body properly.

“All of it has caused a lot of anxiety and it’s all because of a negligent investigation,” he said.

At the time, RCMP told Global News they were “aware of the matter” and that “this is not a criminal matter, but may soon be part of a legal process.”

One week later, RCMP’s Jolette said the situation is being looked into.

“We are reviewing the incident, as well as the application of our policies and procedures, to find out exactly what happened, and we are committed to take every step possible to ensure this does not happen again,” he wrote in the Friday release.

“We strive to respond to all incidents with professionalism, integrity and respect. I want to reaffirm our commitment to serving the public with compassion for the very real and difficult circumstances facing so many in our communities,.

“There are times we can do better and you have my assurance we will.”

Murphy, the Prices’ lawyer, said Friday afternoon his clients “are considering their options.”

The person who was found ended up being identified as Luke Landry, an unhoused man who was released from incarceration on the morning of Nov. 21, with no money, no winter clothes and nowhere to go.

Landry’s mother, Mary MacDonald, said earlier in the week that he had survived an overdose at a supervised consumption site that afternoon, where staff were unable to find him a warm place to spend the night. He died that night, and his body was found in a washroom outside Moncton City Hall that is heated just enough to keep pipes from freezing.

MacDonald is calling for change, saying a number of systemic failures led to his death.

“Something has to change, and it has to change quickly because we’re going into winter,” MacDonald said in an interview from her home in Prince George, B.C. “And my son, his name should mean something. He’s not a statistic, he’s not a homeless person only.”

As for the RCMP, MacDonald said she cannot understand how so many things went wrong.

“Why didn’t they just check fingerprints?” she asked, noting that her son’s prints were likely on file as he had just been released from custody.

— with files from Alex Cooke and The Canadian Press.

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