A 28-year veteran of the service and commander of the Canadian Special Operations Forces was fined $2,000 by a military judge for accidentally firing a weapon near another officer in December last year.

The incident occurred in Iraq where 170 Canadian special forces troops were training Kurdish fighters battling ISIL forces.

A Standing Court Martial found Maj.-Gen. Mike Rouleau guilty of neglect to the prejudice of good order and discipline contrary to section 129 of the National Defence Act. He was sentenced to a $2,000 fine by Lieutenant-Colonel Louis-Vincent d’Auteuil, Military Judge.

“While preparing to go to a forward trench position as I was arranging my equipment, I negligently discharged one bullet into a safe area while loading my assault rifle,” a statement filed by Rouleau said. “As a soldier and as a special operations assaulter, the only acceptable standard of care with a weapon is error-free. I reported the mistake right away to my supervisor, the Chief of the Defence Staff.”

After an investigation Rouleau was charged by the Canadian Armed Forces Director of Military Prosecution with one count, Section 129 of the National Defence Act.

According to court documents, at the time of the incident, Rouleau and another officer were preparing to go to a forward base after presenting several soldiers with medals when Rouleau’s rifle fired one round. The bullet hit the ground less than two feet from the other officer.

The documents indicated that one of Rouleau’s subordinates had earlier warned the commander that his rifle was loaded.

The document said that after the shot rang out, Rouleau remarked: “I can’t believe that happened.”

“Fellas, that was totally me, and I’ll be sure to present myself to the CDS,” Rouleau said minutes later.

Macimum punishment for the offence is dismissal from the service with disgrace. However, the $2,000 fine is also deemed in line with the punishment handed to other officers in the past who have made the same mistake. The court also looked favourably of Rouleau’s decision to quickly report the incident.