Montreal’s infamous ‘Officer 728’ faces heavy fines in racial profiling case
Quebec’s Human Rights Commission has ordered two Montreal police officers and the City of Montreal pay $40,000 in damages to a Montreal man for racial profiling and other civil rights violations.
The incident happened almost five years ago and involves former Montreal police agent Stéfanie Trudeau, better known as Officer 728, officer Constantinos Samaras and a Montrealer named Julian Menezes.
Menezes claims back in May 2012, he was walking in the Plateau Mont-Royal area late at night with two friends when he came across a cyclist talking with Montreal police.
He said the cyclist appeared visibly shaken and he noticed the man was wearing a red square, a symbol worn by demonstrating students at the time.
He said he believes that is why Montreal police stopped him in the first place.
Menezes explained he went to help the man and that’s when Trudeau became aggressive with him.
“We just offered to be with him in that process and for that I was thrown down onto the floor,” Menezes said.
“I was handcuffed without a seatbelt and Constable Trudeau was driving recklessly, slamming on the breaks on purpose so my face was slammed against the plexiglass. My face was injured as a way of breaking me in some ways.”
Menezes claims the other officer, Samaras, never tried to stop Trudeau or help him.
While in the back of the cop car, Menezes said Trudeau hurled racial and sexual slurs at him.
The cops took him on a so-called “starlight tour,” driving him around the city, then dumping him in Montreal North at 3 a.m., leaving him alone.
Menezes said he had bruises on his face and a swollen ankle from being roughed up.
He went to the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) for help.
“They inferred that someone like him can be raped in prison,” said CRARR executive-director Fo Niemi.
“They called him an f—ing Indian. It borders on both physical and psychological torture. It’s something you see on American T.V., but when you know it happens in your own city, then I think it’s very serious.”
Menezes said he feels some satisfaction in the Human Rights Commision’s decision to fine the officers and the city $40,000.
He admitted he lost faith in the police force after what happened.
“It hurt. It hurts. Growing up in Canada, I never really saw myself as being different from other people,” said Menezes.
“I felt that I was a full citizen, I was fully Canadian and to hear that you aren’t, OK, you aren’t appreciated, you aren’t one of us, that is how I felt.”
READ MORE: Montreal’s officer 728 charged with assault
Officer Trudeau has since been disavowed by the Montreal police force.
She was found guilty of assault last year and the police ethics commissioner has cited her before the committee for numerous violations, including illegal detention and arrest, use of racial slurs, mistreatment and negligence regarding the health and safety of Menezes.
READ MORE: Montreal’s officer 728 faces reduced charge
The commission cited Officer Samaras for failing to intervene to stop Trudeau’s actions.
The city and the two officers have until Friday to respond to the ruling.
If they challenge it, the case will be referred to Quebec’s Human Rights Tribunal.
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