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Montréal, August 25, 2017 — Pradel Content, a 39-year-old English-speaking Black man with a physical disability who was racially profiled, arrested and abusively fined by two Laval police officers, for videotaping them last month, has been acquitted of the penal charge against him in Municipal Court this week.

In addition to this positive development, Content also learned this week that the Police Ethics Commissioner has considered his complaint serious enough to send the file directly to investigation with the view to determine if there are sufficient grounds to eventually cite the two police officers involved before the Police Ethics Committee.

Last May, Content, who walks with a cane and who has lived for 17 years in Florida, was driving his Cadillac Escalade in Laval, on Des Laurentides Blvd. to a gas station to buy cigarettes before going home. He saw a police vehicle going in the opposite direction. Upon passing each other, he saw in the rear-view mirror that the police vehicle made an abrupt U-turn to tail him. Content proceeded to the gas station and saw that the police vehicle had followed him and continued to drive past him.

Content parked his car at the service station, got out of his car with his cane and cell phone, and walked towards the street to record the police vehicle driving by. Due to frequent stops by the police, he records his interaction with the police in order to document the incidents and protect himself.

The police vehicle turned into the parking lot and drove towards him. Officer Boutin got out of the vehicle, rushed towards Content, slapped the phone off his hands, and proceeded to aggressively push him towards the latter's car, while yelling at his female partner, Officer Lavoie, not to allow anyone to record what was happening. Officer Boutin then grabbed Content, slammed him against Content's car and handcuffed him, saying he would be going to jail. When Content asked what for, Officer Boutin said, “for videotaping” him.

After being shoved inside the police vehicle despite his visible disability, Content was sarcastically told by Officer Boutin that he was “handicapped in the head.” Content was eventually given a fine of $127 for using a telephone while driving. Content was then taken out of the police vehicle and while uncuffing him, Officer Boutin told him he should be glad he is in Quebec and not in the U.S. “because they shoot people like you there”.

Content tried to obtain the officer's names but was denied and simply told by Officer Lavoie that the information is in the ticket. After the officers left, Content wanted to show the clerk the recording he took on his phone, but he could not find the video, leading Content to conclude that the officers had erased the recording on his phone during the intervention. He did manage to obtain the gas station's video recording of the incident.

Content obtained CRARR's help to file a complaint with the Police Ethics Commissioner for several police ethics violations including racial profiling and excessive use of force, and another complaint with the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission for racial profiling and discrimination based on race intersecting with disability.

In July, Content obtained a copy of the police report from the Laval Municipal Court, in which Officer Boutin wrote that during the detention of Content, the “vidéo a été supprimé du téléphone.”

This report, and the video recording, are unquestionably key factors in the Court's decision to acquit Content and the Police Ethics Commissioner's decision to bypass conciliation and send the file directly to investigation.

Earlier this year, two different courts handed down decisions against Laval police officers for illegal deletion of citizens' cellphone recordings.