Basil Parasiris (born October 28, 1965) is a former Montreal-area businessman who was acquitted of a first-degree murder charge in the shooting death on March 2, 2007 of Sergeant Daniel Tessier, a Laval police officer.
Execution of search warrant
On March 2, 2007, Laval police executed a search warrant at Basil Parasiris's home on a quiet Brossard street on Montreal's south shore. The warrant, authorized by Gaby Dumas, a justice of the peace, gave Laval police the green light to use a dynamic entry – meant to surprise the person being investigated – to carry out their search for evidence. The warrant was executed before dawn and with dynamic (forced) entry. In general, dynamic entry is only allowed to be used in cases where there is a risk of a suspect destroying evidence if alerted that police are on the premises. A team of armed and plain clothed Laval police officers knocked down the door to Mr. Parasiris's home and rushed into his bedroom where he and his wife were sleeping. Unaware that they were police officers executing a search warrant, Mr. Parasiris assumed it was a home invasion; he rushed to his .357 Magnum revolver and shot at the presumed invaders. The first shot fired hit constable Daniel Tessier in the head, the other pierced his heart. Tessier's partner, Stéphane Forbes, was also wounded by one of 4 bullets fired from Parasiris's revolver in the 30-second shootout with police as was Mr. Parasiris's wife Penny, as she fled to a closet. Mr. Parasiris's two children aged 15 and 7 were terrified at hearing gunfire in their fathers house. The older son rushed and called 9-1-1 who informed him to stay calm.
Charged with first degree murder Parasiris stood for bail in front of Quebec Superior Court Justice Jean-Guy Boilard and represented by marquee Montreal lawyer, Frank Pappas. During his bail hearing, the judge focused on whether Mr. Parasiris was a risk to the community, or a risk to flee. Witnesses who testified for Mr. Parasiris claimed that Basil was a man of great character, who lived an honest and peaceful life. Never before has a suspect in Canada believed to have been released on bail for the charge of first degree murder. The judge suggested that the warrant the police executed on Basil's home did not constitute justifiable dynamic entry nor a predawn raid, and should have knocked prior to entering. During the bail process, Basil Parasiris claimed that he intentionally did fire his revolver at Sergeant Daniel Tesser under the impression that it was a robbery. He also claimed that he did not recognize Sergeant Tessier as a police officer until after he fell where the word, "Police," was marked on the back of his vest. After testimony from witnesses and from Basil Parasiris, Justice Boilard came to the decision of allowing Basil to be given bail- a first for first degree murder in Canada according to Basil's lawyer Frank Pappas. His conditions included abiding by a curfew, living with his parents, and having a sister and cousin post $100,000.00 bond.
According to media versions at the time of this shooting, the bullet that wounded Penny was fired from a police weapon. The police also fired several rounds into the children's bedroom.
Verdict and acquittals
Basil Parasiris faced a variety of charges; including the attempted murder charge on Tessier's partner, Stephane Forbes, two weapons charges and first degree murder. On June 10, 2008 Quebec Judge Guy Cournoyer found that there was insufficient evidence to convict Mr. Parasiris of attempted murder or the weapons charges. Justice Cournoyer then ordered the jury to sequester and consider coming to a verdict only on the murder charge. On Friday June 13, 2008, the jury reached a not guilty verdict on the charge of first degree murder of a police officer. The jury suggested that there was reasonable ground to believe that Mr. Parasiris acted in self-defence believing the police officers who he thought were attackers were going to harm his wife and children while the Judge deemed that the search warrant which was used to enter Mr. Parasiris's suburban home was illegal.
Many cited this tragic case as the result of police errors that could have been avoided. Laval police Chief Jean-Pierre Gariépy expressed dismay at the verdict, citing the reasons why the officers were at Mr. Parasiris's home to begin with. Chief Gariépy assured that he would suggest to the Quebec's Public Security Department that they review the policies and procedures behind the use of dynamic entry on search warrants to avoid such complications again in the near future. Thousands of police officers from Quebec and elsewhere in Canada marched on the day of Daniel Tessier's funeral to protest his death. Mr. Parasiris claims that the police are trying to cover their mistakes in his case, and attempting to frame him as a drug kingpin. He is also considering filing a lawsuit against the Laval police for defamation of character.
On Tuesday July 27, 2010, police in Laval, Quebec announced they were countersuing Mr. Parasiris, believing that there was enough evidence to pursue him for damages.
- "Warrant was in violation of Parasiris's rights". Montreal Gazette. 10 June 2008.
- "Man accused of killing Laval officer granted bail". CBC News. 23 April 2007.
- "Parasiris acquitted on 3 charges in police slaying". CBC News. 10 June 2008.
- "Quebec man acquitted in police officer slaying". CBC News. 13 June 2008.
- "Parasiris angry at police". Montreal Gazette. 15 June 2008.
- "Laval police sue Basil Parasiris". CBC News. 27 July 2010.