A Montreal couple who was arrested after laughing out loud in public is hoping criminal charges of obstruction of justice will be dropped once prosecutors see a video of their violent arrest last April 7. The video was taken by two passersby who turned it over to The Center for Research Action on Race Relations.
CRARR claims Brian Mann and Tayana Jacques were victims of racial profiling. The center wants the police officers involved to be held accountable. Both Mann and Jacques have filed complaints with the human rights commission, the police ethics commissioner and are currently contesting the $1,037 in fines they received that day. They were each fined $444 for breaching municipal noise bylaws and Jacques also walked away with an extra fine of $149 for failing to cooperate with officers.
“I want to close my eyes and forget that it ever happened,” said Tayana Jacques while watching the video at a news conference.
The 34-year-old software engineer and her boyfriend first spoke out after the incident, but Jacques didn’t disclose her full name until now for fear of intimidation. Both say they’re still traumatized over what started as a simple walk to get coffee and turned into a violent arrest. Brian Mann sustained several injuries during the incident, including a fractured cheekbone, and torn ligaments in his shoulder and leg. They say the eyewitness video released Tuesday, seven months after the incident, contradicts the police report.
“In the police report, it said that I was resisting and I was attempting to fight off the officers and get back to Tayana, but you can clearly see that I’m leaning against the wall when they arrive,” Mann said.
WATCH: A Montreal couple claims police used excessive force in arresting and restraining them last April because they were laughing too loudly in public. As Global’s Anne Leclair explains, the couple released by-stander video of the arrest which they claim contradicts the SPVM’s version of the fact.
Jacques was arrested first by two officers before six others arrested Mann. The video starts with Mann being tackled to the ground, and then being pepper sprayed, which Mann said contradicts the officer’s account in the police report.
“You can see there’s a couple of kicks and punches,” Mann said. “When I was on the ground for a minute, a minute and a half, someone came and pepper sprayed me.”
Lawyers for the couple claim the incident should have never escalated so quickly over what seemed to be a municipal noise bylaw violation. They call the incident part of a pattern of racial profiling by Montreal police.
“This is excessive force, there is no doubt about it,” said former RCMP officer and law student Alain Babineau. “What’s concerning to us as well is obviously the discrepancies between the police report and what we’re seeing in the video. Obviously, they’ll have to explain that in court.”
The couple hopes the Crown will agree to drop the charges before their next court appearance on Friday. They also encourage bystanders to record police interventions to shed light on the other side of the story.
“I’d like to know that the next time any black person leaves their house they shouldn’t be worried about getting arrested for laughing out loud in the street,” Jacques said.
Global News reached out to Montreal police for comment, a spokesperson said they will not comment since legal proceedings are underway.