A Rapid City man who believed he was possessed when he triggered a standoff with police has been found not criminally responsible for the offences that led to the incident.
Judge John Combs made the ruling in Brandon provincial court yesterday, thereby handing Grant Andrew Lapierre over to the custody of the province’s Criminal Code Review Board.
Lapierre, 35, was struggling
with mental health issues during the events that led to the standoff in February.
On the evening of Feb. 21, he hit his wife in the head with a metal detector during a domestic dispute at their Rapid City home.
The badly bleeding wife fled the house and then heard several gunshots come from inside the home.
Due to the fact Lapierre was believed to be armed, the RCMP Emergency Response Team was called in around 10 p.m.
The standoff ended peacefully at 10:40 a.m. the next day when officers entered the home and arrested Lapierre.
Inside the house, police found six rifles, three shotguns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Police learned that Lapierre had used a shotgun to blast a bathroom mirror.
The shots passed through the wall into the master bedroom, where police found bits of drywall all over the room and shotgun pellets on the bed.
Lapierre, described as mildly intoxicated at time of arrest, was charged with possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, careless use of a firearm and assault with a weapon.
There was an indication Lapierre was previously assessed and received treatment for mental illness, but had stopped taking his medications in the months leading up to the incident. While in custody following his arrest, he examined by a psychiatrist who determined that he showed symptoms of psychosis believed to stem from schizophrenia.
With treatment, Lapierre was ultimately found fit to stand trial.
However, on Thursday, Crown attorney Grant Hughes dropped a possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose charge. Combs then found Lapierre not criminally responsible for the careless use of a firearm and the assault with a weapon offences.
The judge’s ruling was based on the results of a court-ordered psychiatric assessment requested in October to determine whether Lapierre could be found not criminally responsible by way of a mental disorder.
The resulting report, presented to court on Thursday, includes a description of events from Lapierre’s point of view at the time of the offence.
He described how, leading up to the February incident, there were times when he believed that evil spirits could speak through him and that he was being possessed or controlled.
He’d felt possessed on the night of the dispute with his wife: “Something grabbed a hold of me and had me grab the metal detector and hit her.”
He’d blasted the mirror six times with the shotgun because he believed that would provide relief from the evil spirits that were controlling him.
The cloud of drywall dust that resulted was believed by Lapierre to be the presence of dead ghosts.
With the mirror shattered, he calmed down, started to clean up and had a drink to further calm himself.
The psychiatrists who performed this latest assessment ascribe Lapierre’s hallucinations to a psychotic episode that was likely the result of schizophrenia. As a result, they concluded that Lapierre was incapable of appreciating that his actions were morally or criminally wrong —his mental disorder would exempt him from criminal responsibility.
The report, however, also indicates that Lapierre’s condition since the incident has greatly improved.
He has been taking medication and, when assessed on Nov. 18, didn’t seem to be having hallucinations and had improved insight into his mental illness and need for treatment.
The Criminal Code Review Board now has 90 days to hold a hearing to determine how and where Lapierre will continue any treatment.
In general, depending on the level of threat a person poses to himself or others, board dispositions can range from release into the community without conditions to detention in a mental health facility subject to annual review.
Lapierre remains in custody as he awaits the review board’s decision.
He has no criminal record.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 6, 2013