BROWN CONCORDIA STUDENT DETAINED & CALLED “HINDU PAKI” DURING POLICE INTERROGATION
Montreal, July 4, 2013--- For a Concordia University student of South Asian background, what was supposed to be a pleasant evening drive with two friends along the Lachine Canal ended up as nightmare in which he was detained at gunpoint, handcuffed and even called a “Hindou Paki” by a Montreal police officer.
In March 2013, at around 10:30 pm, 23-year old Daniel (not his real name) and two of his friends, one Black and the other Arab, went for a ride to the Lachine Canal, near the Atwater Market, where they parked their car. The three men heard a gunshot ring out in a row of houses a couple blocks away. In a matter of seconds, the three men saw two white cars driving speedily away from where the gunshot rang out. One car was a Chrysler and the other, a Mercedes. Daniel's friends were frightened by what they had just witnessed and wanted to leave, but Daniel convinced them to stay, which they did.
The young men decided to get out of the car for a stroll. However, before they could do so, they noticed a police car driving quietly by. The two officers who were in the vehicle looked at them and drove their car to the parking lot of the Atwater Market. The police car turned around and drove by again. The officers took another look at the men. Shortly afterwards, a second police car arrived, and both police cars turned on their flashing lights.
The three men were ordered out of the car by the police; many officers were present, with handguns pointed at them. Daniel was told to kneel down and cross his legs. He was then handcuffed and put on the trunk of a police car while being searched. After being searched, Daniel was shoved into a police car. He noticed that his friend’s car was being heavily searched. His friends were similarly handcuffed and searched.
For approximately an hour, and in separate police cars, Daniel and his friends were questioned. Daniel was repeatedly asked he had a gun. He was also asked if he had drugs, weed, syringes, among other things, on his person. His phone was also searched.
A white male officer who questioned Daniel told him that he matched the description of the shooter. He was told by the officer that the shooter was “un Hindou Paki comme toi”. Towards the end of the incident, a mature looking police officer informed Daniel that he and his friends should have called the police when they heard the gunshot. And that if they had done so, they would not have been detained.
Daniel was then taken out of the police car and uncuffed. After having been uncuffed, an officer, making light of the situation, told him that he would at least have a “funny story” to tell. Once they were all released, the young men went home in complete shock as to what had just transpired.
With CRARR’s help, Daniel has filed complaints with both the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission and the Quebec Police Ethics Commissioner.
“I was unjustifiably detained and interrogated by the police. I have never experienced anything like this in my life. It was a shocking and horrendous experience,” said Daniel. “To add insult to injury, I was called a “Paki” (he is of Sri-Lankan background) and was not read my constitutional rights during the entire detention,” he added.
The incident traumatized Daniel so much that he had to drop out of his courses and seek counseling.