BATHURST, N.B. -- RCMP have laid charges against two New Brunswick police officers in the shooting death of a 51-year-old man.

Michel Vienneau of Tracadie-Sheila was shot in his vehicle near the Bathurst train station on Jan. 12.

A news release from Nova Scotia RCMP says constables Patrick Bulger, 38, and Mathieu Boudreau, 26, of the Bathurst City Police are each facing charges of manslaughter with a weapon, assault with a weapon and unlawfully pointing a firearm.

The RCMP in Nova Scotia were asked to investigate the incident and concluded the investigation in July before handing it over to New Brunswick's Public Prosecution Service.

Bathurst City Police Chief Eugene Poitras said the two officers have been suspended until the court process is concluded, but he wouldn't comment on their abilities or experience.

He also said he isn't privy to the results of the RCMP investigation.

"Since the incidents of the 12th of January, this investigation was passed onto the RCMP in Halifax and I was made aware of the results yesterday," he said during an interview in Bathurst.

"It's a difficult time to be going through, but I don't want to comment any further."

Conflicting statements about what occurred have emerged in a lawsuit filed by Michel Vienneau's common-law partner, who was with him in the vehicle.

Annick Basque alleged in her July 13 statement of claim that Vienneau's death was caused by police negligence and that neither she nor Vienneau were involved in illegal activities.

In a statement of defence, the City of Bathurst says officers were investigating whether the couple were in possession of illegal drugs after returning from a trip to Quebec.

The statement also says the officers clearly identified themselves to Vienneau and had tried to stop his vehicle before it accelerated.

It says one police officer fired at the car as it moved towards another officer who was pinned against a snow bank.

None of the lawsuit's allegations or statements of defence have been proven in court.

The lawyer who represents Vienneau's estates says his parents, Sylvie and George Vienneau, were informed on Wednesday that charges were laid.

"The family is very relieved. There were all kinds of innuendo and negative stuff that there was criminal wrongdoing on the part of Mr. Vienneau. All kinds of rumours were flying," said Gilles Lemieux.

"This takes away all that pressure and the worry that came with it."

Vienneau's brother said in a statement that the family is "satisfied" with the investigation report completed by Halifax RCMP.

"I have always believed that my brother had never done anything wrong...but this tragic story will never give back to my family my brother Michel," said Nicolas Vienneau in an email.

Sylvie Vienneau released a public letter last month criticizing delays in the case and the lack of information being provided to the parents.

The mother said her son had no criminal record, was a well-known businessman and was respected in the community.

The New Brunswick Police Commission, which investigates complaints related to the conduct of police, has launched an investigation into the two officers.

That investigation has been suspended until the criminal process concludes.

Both officers have been scheduled to appear in Bathurst provincial court on Jan. 4.