POLICE ETHICS COMMISSIONER CITES TWO LONGUEUIL POLICE OFFICERS FOR RACIAL PROFILING OF JOEL DEBELLEFEUILLE
Montreal, February 4, 2014 --- The Quebec Police Ethics Commissioner has upheld most of a new complaint filed by Joel Debellefeuille, the Black South Shore BMW owner and driver who was stopped in 2009 by a Longueuil police officer for his French name, and again by two Longueuil police officers while driving to his son’s daycare center in 2012.
On March 22, 2012, at around 10:00 am, while driving his family in his grey 2001 BMW 320I to a daycare center in Brossard, Mr. Debellefeuille was followed by a Longueuil Police vehicle for eleven blocks on Malo St. The police car drove by in the opposite direction before making an abrupt U-turn to tail Mr. Debellefeuille until he stopped in front of the daycare on Croissant Moreau.
As he was carrying his one year-old child inside, the police car drove by, turned around and stopped in front of the daycare. The police officer on the driver’s side rolled down the window and asked Mr. Debellefeuille for his IDs, while he was still carrying his son in his arms.
Facing the officer’s insistence on having his IDs, he told the officer that he wanted to carry his child inside; which the officer eventually allowed him to do. When he came out, he gave his IDs to the officer who did a computer check and then left.
During this time, the daycare center’s owner, accompanied by some children, told the officer that his interception was disrespectful towards a father who was bringing his child to daycare. Mr. Debellefeuille told the two officers that they were trying to intimidate and harass him, and felt unsafe to the point where his wife, who was in the car, had to call his lawyer during the check.
With CRARR’S help, Mr. Debellefeuille filed a police ethics complaint against the two officers, as well as a civil rights complaint of racial profiling and other civil rights violations.
This week, Police Ethics Commissioner Claude Simard upheld most of the complaint filed by Mr. Debellefeuille and cited the two police officers before the Police Ethics Committee (a specialized tribunal) for committing acts based on race and for illegally stopping Mr. Debellefeuille by intercepting his vehicle. Commissioner Simard ruled in favour of Mr. Debellefeuille on most grounds, except for those relating to a lack of respect or politeness displayed by the officers when they intercepted Mr. Debellefeuille in front of the daycare. The hearings will be likely held in the Fall.
In 2009, Mr. Debellefeuille was stopped by two Longueuil police officers while driving his BMW, one of whom wrote in his report about his doubt of a Black man with the Québécois name of “Joel Debellefeuille.” He first lost in Municipal Court, which failed to address racial profiling properly. He fought the case all the way to Quebec Superior Court, which ruled in his favor and sent his case back to the lower court for a retrial; he eventually won his case and was judicially recognized as a victim of racial profiling. His police ethics complaint was also upheld, resulting in a five-day suspension without pay for each of the officers involved.
Five other Black individuals assisted by CRARR have also filed civil rights claims of racial profiling against the Longueuil Police in the last two years. The Ville de Longueuil still has no policy and plan of action against racial discrimination in public services.