APTN National News
A Maliseet RCMP officer who made headlines for smoking marijuana was found dead Monday.
Cpl. Ron Francis, from the Kingsclear First Nation, NB, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. He was prescribed medical-grade marijuana as a treatment. Video and photos of Francis smoking pot in his red serge flooded the media last year.
He was found dead late Monday afternoon. The cause of death was not immediately released.
“Ron was more than a client to me. He was a childhood friend I am saddened by his death. Not only is this a direct loss to his direct family, but it’s also a loss to the Maliseet community,” wrote Maliseet lawyer and Francis’ long-time friend T.J. Burke.
Francis served with the RCMP for 21 years. In Francis’ last year, he was put on medical leave and stripped of his red serge. He appeared in a Fredericton court last month to face charges of assaulting fellow RCMP officers in an incident from last December. He pleaded guilty to some charges, others were dropped.
“Ron was a man of honour and service. Most importantly, to the youth in our community, Ron was a role model,” said Kingsclear First Nation Chief Gabriel Atwin.
Burke said at the time that PTSD was become a more frequent factor in cases before the courts. He called for a provincial and federal task force to study the issue.
Francis was recently quoted as saying he was focused on healing. The Facebook group, Families of the RCMP for PTSD Awareness, posted condolences on its online page.
“We write this with a very heavy heart, we have lost another RCMP member, Cpl. Ron Francis who lost his battle with PTSD,” said the posting.
More condolences began to pour out late Monday from friends and family on Facebook.
“My thoughts and prayers and love go out to the Francis family, his friends and the community of Kingsclear,” posted Candice Paul, chief of the neighboring St. Mary’s First Nation.
Ron Francis’ story raised awareness of PTSD. Recent report highlighted the cases of 13 first responders who committed suicide in as many weeks.
–with a file from The Canadian Press