BLACK WOMAN WHO WAS VIOLENTLY ARRESTED AND MAIMED BY MONTREAL POLICE CHARGED WITH FOUR COUNTS
Montreal, August 5, 2015 — Majiza Philip, the young Black woman who was violently arrested and had her left humerus bone badly fractured by Montreal police officers last November, found out last week that she has been charged with four counts after the incident.
On November 21, 2014, Ms. Philip, 26, went with her friend and roommate to the Machine Gun Kelly concert at the Olympia Theater in the Gay Village. When they came out of the concert, her friend was a bit tipsy and was arrested by the police for loitering and being drunk.
Coming out of the washrooms, Ms. Philip went to the police car where her friend was detained, and talked to a female officer who was writing him a ticket. This female officer came out of the police car and tried to grab his jacket from Ms. Philip’s hands. Ms. Philip backed away and told her that she would go to the police station to join him there and give him his jacket herself. She then lightly tapped on the rear window to tell her roommate that she would meet him at the station.
In a matter of seconds, a male officer came out of nowhere and violently pushed her back several times. Other officers came to grab her, push her face against the police car and pull her arms backwards. Still in shock, Ms. Philip said the officers had no right to do this. Then she saw a male police officer’s hand come up and down in a quick motion. She heard a crack, felt intense pain on her left arm and screamed out of pain.
She was then handcuffed, and thrown in the back of the police car. She began to cry and begged the two officers in the car to loosen her left hand because she could feel her left arm bone moving. The two officers laughed her off and ignored her. After 5 to 10 minutes, they drove her to the police station on Saint-Élizabeth St.
During the ride, and after arriving outside the station, she kept crying and asking the officers to do something about her broken arm. The two arresting officers then dragged her out of the car and brought her to a room inside the station, where they interrogated her and filled out some papers.
No one tended to her intense pain, so she had to cry for help. She was then hauled to the lobby of the police station. The officers then released her left arm and handcuffed her right arm to the chair they put her in. They told her they had called an ambulance. Two paramedics eventually arrived, checked her arm and finally took her to the hospital.
Before she left for the hospital, the police officer who broke her arm had asked her to sign a ticket, which she barely understood due to her medical state. She refused to sign, so he said he would mail it to her. She eventually found out by calling the station that she would get two fines, one for yelling and the other, for refusing to comply with the officer’s instruction; however, she never received these two tickets.
After staying overnight at the St. Luc Hospital, she was released in the morning after being diagnosed with a fractured humerus. She got a cast put on for 5 weeks and eventually a metal plate with 6 screws. Ms. Philip lost her full-time job as a cook and could not teach dance in the foreseeable future.
With CRARR’s help, Ms. Philip has filed a police ethics complaint against the officer who beat her up, citing excessive force, an abusive fine and negligence where her health and safety were concerned during custody. Last week, the Police Ethics Commissioner’s investigator met with her and informed her of criminal charges filed against her. Prior to this meeting, she had never been informed of these charges.
She immediately went to the Montreal Courthouse where she learned that after the incident, she was charged with four counts, for assaulting two police officers, obstruction of justice and resisting arrest.
To make the situation worse, because Ms. Philip never received any notice from the police or the courts, she did not know that she had to go for fingerprinting and appear in court last March. As a result, she could be arrested and jailed for her failure to comply with these two orders.
Ms. Philip appeared in court on Monday with her lawyer to set a date for hearings next Monday and to correct the court records about her failure to appear last March.
“When I called to the station to enquire about the two fines, nobody told me that I had criminal charges. I am shocked by the fact that I never received any notice from the police or the Montreal Court about these charges since the incident,” said Ms. Philip.
To date, she still has not received the two fines. Her trial will begin next month.
CRARR will write to the local office of the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecution to inquire about the failure to notify, and how the prosecution proceeded with the hearing against her without noting the reason for her absence.
“Let my daughter's case be newly appointed Police Chief Philippe Pichet's first challenge. Come to talk to the Black community about the Montreal Police treatments of Black people,” said Ms. Philip's mother Suzanne Bruneau. “Show us you understand that Black Lives Matter, Chief!”
Ms. Philip is the granddaughter of Ethel Bruneau, known as the “Queen of Tap” who came to Montreal from Harlem in the 1950s.