RACIAL PROFILING: HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION ASKS MONTREAL POLICE TO PAY SOUTH ASIAN MAN $40,000 IN DAMAGES
Montréal, January 12, 2017 — The Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission has asked the City of Montreal and its two police officers, including an officer known as “Agent 728”, to pay to an English-speaking South Asian man $40,000 for racial profiling and other civil rights violations.
The case involves Mr. Julian Menezes, of Indian background, who was violently arrested in May 2012 by Montreal police officers Stéfanie Trudeau (publicly known as “Agent 728”) and Constantinos Samaras in the Plateau Mont-Royal district while coming home from a wedding with two white female friends.
When he and his two friends saw the two police officers intercepting a visibly shaken cyclist, the three, out of natural concern, inquired as to what had happened. The cyclist explained that he was ostensibly being ticketed by the officers for not having the right light on his bike, but that he believed that in reality, it was for wearing a “red square” (a symbol worn by students demonstrating against Quebec tuition increase at the time).
Officer Trudeau became aggressive, accused Mr. Menezes of being drunk, grabbed him and threw him to the ground. Both officers then handcuffed Mr. Menezes, pushed him violently into the police car, spraining his ankle in the process and then drove him away. He was given a “Starlight Tour”, whereby he was transported to a district far from the arrest location, with which he was unfamiliar, and released in the North-end of the island at 3:30 am, without the means to get home.
While in the police vehicle, he was subjected to racial slurs (including being called by Officer Trudeau as a “f-cking Indian”) and the threat of sexual violence. During the drive, both officers deliberately stopped the car abruptly several times, causing his face to slam against the glass dividing the front and back of the police car. In addition, he received a fine of $146 for “continuing to do an act” which the ticket failed to specify.
Mr. Menezes sought CRARR's help in filing a complaint with the Police Ethics Commissioner, and another complaint with the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission.
Regarding the police ethics complaint, the Police Ethics Commissioner has cited Officer Trudeau before the Police Ethics Committee, for numerous police ethics violations, including illegal detention and arrest, use of racial slurs, excessive use of force, mistreatment, unjustified fining and negligence regarding the health and safety of Mr. Menezes.
Officer Samaras is cited by the Commissioner before the Police Ethics Committee for failure to identify himself at Mr. Menezes' request and for failure to intervene to stop Officer Trudeau's actions.
The police ethics hearings are scheduled for April 4, 2017.
Regarding the civil rights complaint, the Human Rights Commission concluded, in a decision sent to the parties shortly before Christmas, that Mr. Menezes has been subjected to racial profiling and discriminatory treatment because of his race. The Commission asks that:
❐ The City of Montreal and the two officers jointly pay him $25,000 in moral damages,
❐ Officer Trudeau and Officer Samaras pay him $10,000 and $5,000 respectively, in punitive damages, and that
❐ The Montreal Police Service update its Strategic Plan of Action against racial and social profiling within 90 days of the reception of the decision. Said Plan expired two years ago and there is presently no news about its updated version.
“Of course, this decision is a major victory not only for my civil rights and dignity, but also, for all Montrealers, especially those who are often victims of racially-biased policing,” said Mr. Menezes.
“The case now heads to the Police Ethics tribunal and very likely, the Human Rights Tribunal,” added Mr. Menezes. “I look forward to these hearings and to the law coming down in my favour, because despite what I lived through, I still hope that we live in a just society where all citizens are protected by the law.”
“This decision is added evidence of the existence of racial profiling in this city, although many public officials and the courts still remain reluctant to recognize it,” noted CRARR Executive Director Fo Niemi.
All three respondents have until tomorrow, Friday, January 13, to comply with the Human Rights Commission, failing which the case will be brought before the Human Rights Tribunal.