More than 20 years after narrowly escaping death at the hand of a career criminal in downtown Montreal, a former Montreal police officer is concerned about the criminal's impending release from prison.
Walter Filipas was shot twice in the head at close range with a 9mm pistol on the night of May 22, 1993, as he and his partner, Lucy Krasowski, were looking for witnesses to a robbery in Dorchester Square. One of the bullets actually went through Filipas' head and struck Krasowski in the head.
Both officers survived, but both remain physically and emotionally scarred from the incident.
The shooter, Claude Forget, will have finished serving his 20-year sentence for the shootings of Friday. He'll be released from a facility in Drummondville without supervision of any kind, even though experts suggest he could once again commit a violent crime. He's said to be unreprentant, antisocial and appears to have a serious problem with authority — even telling parole officers at one point that "I shot police officers, not human beings", referring to Filipas and Krasowski.
Filipas says he's concerned, in part because Forget has spent more than half of his 58 years in custody for a variety of offences.
"He's been incarcerated since the age of 14," Filipas told CJAD's Barry Morgan. "Notwithstanding his juvenile record, he's been in jail since the age of 18. Always a revolving door. Never one day of freedom. Probation, arrest, back to court, back to jail. Back and forth...all his life."
In 2005, the parole board turned down Forget's request for parole, because of the risk he might commit another violent offence. And last year, the parole board released a report highlighting Forget's risk of re-offending, and the fact that during his time behind bars, he's shown little or no interest in rehabilitation.
Filipas says despite the fact his world was turned upside down because of the shooting, he has long forgiven Forget for what he did. But he suggests Forget did slip through the cracks.
"I have no ills toward him, it's the system that failed big time. He was part of the system, but he took advantage of every situation because he knew how the system worked."
He says as a victim, article A-10 of the Criminal Code provides him with greater protections from the law — in the way of release conditions.
"When he gets out, stay away from my home and my family's home," he says. "Stay away from downtown where the incident happened. Not to consume any drugs or alcohol for x amount of time."