Fondé en 1983 --Unis pour la diversité et l'égalité raciale


Montréal, December 16, 2019 — In the last two months, several racial profiling complaints filed by Black Montrealers with the Police Ethics Commissioner have been sent by the latter to investigation and one, to a hearing before the Police Ethics Committee.

At first, these cases, which were assisted by CRARR, were sent to conciliation by the Commissioner. Conciliation is a step in the complaint process that seeks to resolve the case through informal dispute resolution. More than 90% of complaints are closed after conciliation, regardless of whether it is successful or not. If the Commissioner considers that a complaint warrants further inquiry and that he can meet the evidentiary burden in pursuing the case, he can launch an investigation.

The cases involve allegations of racial bias by law enforcement officers. They include:

• An English-speaking Black woman in her 20s went shopping at The Brick furniture store in the West Island and was arrested and handcuffed by a policewoman after she was wrongly accused of being associated with another Black male shopper with fake IDs. The Montreal officer has been cited by the Commissioner before the Police Ethics Committee (an administrative tribunal that can impose sanctions), for engaging in race-based conduct, illegal use of handcuffs and illegal arrest;

• An English-speaking Black male driver in his 30s was tailed by two Laval police officers and stopped in Laval, because his car was registered to a woman (his wife) and that there was “no male registered at the woman’s address.” Three more police cruisers showed up, the exchange became heated over racial profiling and speaking English. In the end, the driver received two tickets, one for insulting a police officer;

• A French-speaking Black man in his 20s driving three Black male friends to a floor hockey game at a high school in the north east end of Montreal was stopped by two Montreal police officers for a «routine check». One officer required the passengers to show their IDs. When the driver told his friends that they were not obliged under the law to do so, he was given two fines, one for obstruction of an officer’s work and the other, for changing lanes without turning on his flashers;

• An English-speaking Black mother in her 30s was reported by her dentist to the police for an alleged dispute over dental fees for her child. Her dentist accused her of “theft of services.” Two Montreal police officers arrived at the dentist’s office, one of whom warned the mother that if she refused to pay, she could be arrested, charged with “theft of services” and brought to a judge. Feeling intimidated, she paid the amount charged by the dentist;

• A French-speaking African international student from Ottawa was driving his friend’s Mercedes in the north-end of Montreal when he accidentally turned left on a no left-turn area. Two Montreal police officers stopped him and asked for his ID. As he was looking for his papers in the car trunk, one officer became impatient and placed him under arrest; the other officer ran up and pepper-sprayed him despite the lack of resistance. One officer then used a Taser on his neck, which made him fall down and vomit. He was taken to a hospital where the officers continued to question him despite his condition and the doctor’s order to leave the emergency room. He was eventually given two fines and charged with the criminal offense of obstruction of an officer’s work. The Police Ethics Commissioner rapidly ordered an investigation three weeks after receiving the police ethics complaint.

Since October 2019, CRARR has received on the average two complaints per week from Black individuals concerning racial profiling and other biased police conduct in Montreal and surrounding areas.

While CRARR encourages citizens who believe they have been mistreated by police officers to file complaints either with the Police Ethics Commissioner or with the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission, or both, it suggests that they not rush to file complaints.

People are also encouraged to be aware of time limits for legal action: 12 months for police ethics complaints, and 6 or 36 months for civil rights complaint depending on the nature and outcome of an incident.