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Montréal, February 26, 2019 — Almost two years after being arrested at gunpoint by nearly a dozen police officers, and detained for hours as a result of biased reporting, a young Black man has filed a civil rights complaint against the white resident, an off-duty police officer, who had called the police upon him.

In June 2017, Malik Spaulding-Smith, a resident of Saint-Constant, stopped his car two streets away from his home to smoke a cigarette. A white neighbor came out of his home and asked him whether he knew a certain name. As Spaulding-Smith said no, the neighbor walked away while stopping to take a look at the licence plate number of the vehicle.

Spaulding-Smith finished his smoking and drove back home to get ready for school. As he walked out of his house, he faced at least 9 police officers who asked him to freeze while pointing their firearms at him. He was immediately arrested, ordered to the ground, handcuffed, searched and told that he was being arrested for “intimidation and possession of a firearm.”

He was then taken to the police station where he would be detained for nine hours without having the right to contact his mother. He was later released and driven home, and told that he was simply “at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Spaulding-Smith later found out that the white neighbor had alerted the police because he believed he had heard gunshots in the area where he was parked. As it turned out, the so-called gunshots were in fact exploding Hydro-Quebec circuit breakers.

Through a police ethics complaint filed last year with CRARR’s help, Spaulding-Smith learned that the white neighbor is a local police officer with the Roussillon Police who was off-duty at the time.

In his civil rights complaint filed by CRARR on his behalf, Spaulding-Smith is seeking moral and punitive damages from the neighbor, and denounces the incident as a “Living While Black” and “Being Out of Place” case of racial profiling.

“The neighbor’s intentional over-reaction, especially inexcusable since he is a police officer, exemplifies how racial profiling can become part of one’s mindset which robotically perceives and treats Black bodies as being potentially criminal and deserving suspicion,” said CRARR Advisor, Alain Babineau.

“In recent years, we have seen on social media how white people call the police on Black people for everything and anything. There is this dangerous mindset of equating Blackness with criminalization that, as this case shows, exposes an innocent Black youth to great harm and life-threatening danger,” Babineau said.

“We at CRARR want this conduct to be sharply rebutted and sanctioned, especially because the respondent is a police officer at the time of the incident, even if he was off work,” Babineau said.

The police ethics complaint is still under investigation by the Commissioner.