Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality

FIVE YEARS AFTER THE MONTREAL POLICE BROKE HER ARM, MAJIZA PHILIP WILL APPEAL POLIC ETHICS COMMISSIONER’S DISMISSAL OF HER COMPLAINT



Montreal, November 21, 2019 — On the fifth anniversary of her violent arrest by the Montreal Police, which led to a badly broken arm and four criminal charges, Majiza Philip will appeal the Police Ethics Commissioner’s decision to dismiss her complaint against the four officers involved.

The Decision was forwarded to hear at the end of October. In the Decision, the Commissioner concluded that the officers did not “willfully and intentionally” provided false testimonies in court with the view to mislead the court during her criminal trial.

On November 21, 2014, Philip, then 26, went with her roommate to a Machine Gun Kelly concert at the Olympia Theater downtown. When her roommate was detained in a police by the police for being drunk, she tried to talk to him, which led her to being violent arrested, resulting in a broken humerus that required her to wear a cast for 5 weeks and a metal plate with 6 crews. She lost her full-time job as a cook and could not teach dance for a period (she is the granddaughter of the “Queen of Tap” Ethel Bruneau).

After she filed a police ethics complaint, Philip learned in July 2015 from the Commissioner’s office that four criminal charges were filed against her. She had never been informed of these charges (for assaulting two police officers, obstruction of justice and resisting arrest).

In May 2016, after completing his inquiry, then-Police Ethics Commissioner Paul Larochelle rejected her case by stating that the three cited officers did not commit any misconduct. The police ethics inquiry and decision was made before her criminal trial.

In December 2017, the Montreal Municipal Court dismissed the charges and acquitted Philip, due to major contradictions in the four officers’ testimonies during the criminal trial. Judge Mouscardy even noted that "les témoignages entendus en poursuite donnent l’impression qu’on essaye de camoufler une intervention qui a mal tourné. Les multiples contradictions et omissions relevées dans les témoignages policiers obligent le Tribunal à se questionner sur leur volonté de relater fidèlement ce qui s’est produit avec Philip.”

In her decision, Judge Mouscardy even noted that the officers’ testimonies “leave the court perplexed : “How can the officers be victims of so much forgetfulness [autant d’oublis] when the case had already gone through the police ethics process ?”

It was also revealed in court that one officer did not fill out the report on the use of force, which is mandatory under the SPVM policy – a fact that the Police Ethics Commissioner never noted in his investigation.

This led Philip to file a second complaint in August 2018 with the Police Ethics Commissioner, in which she alleged that the four officers involved failed to respect the law and cooperate in the administration of justice by providing false testimonies in court and by providing police reports that were false.

In its Decision dated October 21, 2019, Commissioner Marc-André Dowd dismissed the complaint, by ruling that although the officers’ “imprecise and contradictory” version of facts undermined their credibility before the court, the evidence does not allow him to prove that their testimonies were false or erroneous, and much less so, and that they were made with the intention to misled the court.

Regarding the allegation that the officers filed false or incorrect reports to willfully and intentionally mislead the reader, the Commissioner also dismissed this part since in his decision, he could not prove on a “preponderance of evidence” that the officers gave false testimonies in court, as their testimonies corresponded to their narrative in their reports.

“I want the officers accountable under the law, because it is very wrong that they can now walk off without sanction or penalty for what they did to me”, said Philip. “Ultimately, it seems that no one is help liable for the violence, the abuse of power and the pain and hardship they put me through after three years,” she added.

“I also want the Police Ethics Commissioner to be held accountable, because it’s clear that for the first complaint, the Commissioner did a rush job, by failing to wait for the criminal trial, by failing to note that one officer did not file the mandatory use of force, and by failing to note the inconsistencies in the different police reports,” said Philip.

According to CRARR Advisor Alain Babineau, “Ms. Philip’s case shows the need to raise the bar in terms of accountability and high performance standards for police officers as well as the Police Ethics Commissioner when called upon to investigate a case involving serious injuries, excessive use of force and abuse of power.”

“The specter of gross negligence, collusion to cover up excessive force and abuse of power is something law enforcement and police watchdog agencies need to avoid,” he added.

CRARR will help Ms. Philip file for a review of the Commissioner’s decision by the Police Ethics Committee tomorrow, on the grounds that the Commission has glossed over many aspects of the complaint.

Philip is presently suing the City of Montreal and the officers involved for $700,000 for illegal conduct, assault and excessive force resulting in serious permanent injury.