The family of man killed by Montreal police is asking the provincial government for financial help to find a lawyer to represent them during an upcoming coroner’s inquest into the killing.
Pro-bono lawyers helping Pierre Coriolan’s relatives say it’s simply a matter of fairness.
That, explained Virginie Dufresne-Lemire, one of the lawyers, is “because the police will testify and we have to challenge their testimony and story to make sure we have the right evaluation of the situation.”
Coriolan, 58, was shot and killed in 2017 by Montreal police in the hallway of his apartment building, after being hit several times.
A coroner’s inquest into the incident begins at the Montreal courthouse on Feb. 17 and Coriolan’s family has interested party status at the inquiry.
According to the family’s lawyer and a group of rights organizations fighting on their behalf, since the family can’t afford legal representation, the Quebec government should pay.
“The police officers who were involved in this fatal police intervention will have lawyers that will be funded by taxpayers, so it’s just a matter of equity,” Alexandre Popovic pointed out during a press conference in Montreal.
Popovic is spokesperson for the Coalition against Repression and Police Abuse (CRAP), one of the groups advocating for the family.
Dufresne-Lemire argued that the police’s version has to be challenged, and that is less likely to happen if the family doesn’t have someone to speak on their behalf.
She claimed that in past similar cases, victims have been portrayed negatively as a way of justifying the police action.
“That’s how we paint the picture of the victim and it’s important that someone defends the victim.”
She added that they sent a letter on the family’s behalf to Quebec’s acting public security minister Andrée Laforest last October, asking for financial help, and that the’re still waiting for an answer.
A spokesperson for the ministry said that since the inquest is about to start they can’t comment on the case.
Dufresne-Lemire also said she and her colleagues haven’t decided yet if they will represent the family Pro Bono for the inquiry.