A Montreal woman and her mother are calling on Quebec’s police ethics commissioner to reopen her complaint against Montreal police officers over excessive use of force.
They also want Quebec to modify the Police Act to make it mandatory for officers to testify during the complaint process.
They are determined to step up their fight for justice after two Montreal police officers gave contradictory testimonies in court regarding her violent arrest more than three years ago.
“The judge deemed the arrest illegal,” Majiza Philip said. “That just tells me that now that I have been acquitted of those charges, I have to go forward and to ask the police commissioner to reopen my case.”
Philip was violently arrested after a rap concert at Theatre l’Olympia on Nov. 22, 2014. Police officers arrested her friend first and then when Philip approached them to tell them she thought it was unjustified, she was also arrested.
She suffered a fractured humerus, and now has a seven-inch scar with a metal plate in her arm.
Police charged her with assaulting officers and resisting arrest. She filed a complaint with the police ethics commissioner for excessive use of force.
“I suffered from PTSD and am now taking anti-depressant medication because my life just got really dismantled and it triggered tons of anxiety in my life,” Philip said.
A municipal court judge believed Philip’s story and in a December 2017 ruling, stated police officers gave contradictory testimonies and tried to camouflage their actions.
Quebec’s police ethics commissioner closed her complaint file in 2016, before her case was heard in court.
“That could be justifiable grounds to have the police ethics case either reopened or to have a new investigation in light of the testimonies presented in court last year,” The Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) director Fo Niemi said.
Police officers in this case refused to co-operate with the ethics complaint process — a common practice Philip wants to put an end to.
“In section 192 of the Police Act, officers do not have to co-operate in police ethics investigations, that alone is absurd and archaic,” Philip said.
A spokesperson for the police ethics commissioner claimed complaints are never reopened and that Philip will have to file a new complaint altogether based on the conflicting testimony rather than the initial complaint of excessive use of force.
“We think that the minister of safety should appoint an independent counsel to look at what happened in her case and how her complaint with the police ethics commissioner was handled,” Niemi said.
A spokesperson for the public security minister insisted that it’s ultimately up to Quebec’s independent police ethics commissioner to decide whether or not to reopen the case.
“I’ve watched her suffer and it’s been very difficult,” Philip’s mother Suzanne Bruneau said. “I don’t want to ever see a mother or family go through the ordeal that we’ve been through these last three years.”
Philip and her mother say they won’t give up until justice is served.
“I’m still very much in fear of police officers because I know that yes, I’ve been acquitted but they haven’t been held accountable for anything,” Philip said.