Jason Boutilier receives a commendation in this submitted photo. All charges were withdrawn against the Sturgeon County man in relation to a 2021 hit and run and assault investigation.
It has been a rough year for former Canadian Soldier Jason Boutilier. The Sturgeon County resident was charged a year ago with four counts related to a hit and run and assault investigation in the county.
Almost a year later, all four charges were withdrawn.
On Feb. 14, 2021, Morinville RCMP responded to a call for service involving an incident on Highway 2 and Township Road 552 in Sturgeon County. A call from a concerned citizen and the victim himself reported a red-coloured older Ford truck that had rammed the victim’s car at high speeds off the highway into an adjacent ditch. The suspect then rammed the victim’s car several times before fleeing the scene.
After a two-month investigation by the Morinville RCMP, K Division Auto Theft Unit, K Division Forensic Identification Section, Parkland RCMP, and the K Division Interview Assistance Team, Boutilier was charged with Assault with a Weapon, Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle, Failure to Remain at the Scene of an Accident, and Committing Mischief to Property Endangering Life.
Eleven months later, the Crown withdrew all charges when the matter went before the court on Mar. 15. The last of Boutilier’s four charges was initially removed, and then the remaining three.
In an interview with Jason Boutilier on Mar. 28, the former soldier told Morinville Online that prosecutors found insufficient evidence against him.
Boutilier said the trial, initially set for November, was delayed and dragged on, he feels, because the RCMP and Crown did not have what they needed.
“I would call it emotional trauma, to be honest with you,” Boutilier said of the delay in having his day in court. “Stress was through the roof. Imagine being called a rapist, and you didn’t rape anybody.”
The Sturgeon County man said he experienced a loss of income and a loss of reputation within the community. “It was broadcasted all over the news,” he said, adding that social media commentary often makes an accused guilty until proven innocent instead of the other way around. “Realistically, I didn’t have to prove myself innocent. They didn’t have enough evidence.”
While being vindicated of wrongdoing is a relief for the former Canadian soldier, he says it is hard to put the stress of the past year behind him.
“I’m just trying to fall back into my life that I lived before and act like it didn’t happen,” Boutilier said, adding he wants to see his name cleared in the community and still finds the matter stressful. “My intentions are just to fall back into my normal life routine and carry on.”
Boutilier served almost a decade in the Canadian Armed Forces and was deployed to assist in B.C. flood relief efforts in 2018. He was awarded a Joint Task Force Pacific Commendation for his actions there.
In the past two weeks since the Crown withdrew the charges in court, RCMP has not indicated to the media that the investigation into the Feb. 14, 2021 incident is ongoing.
article compiled by Stephen Dafoe