A Montreal Black man says he is thinking of suing the city after he says he invited Montreal police into his home and ended up being assaulted.
According to the man’s lawyer, Virginie Dufresne-Lemire, Montreal Police responded to a noise complaint in downtown Montreal on the night of April 24.
They knocked on Lloys Chatel-Elie’s door, who says was having a quiet night with his girlfriend.
Chatel-Elis says he invited the officers into his apartment as an act of good faith and to prove there was no party but then when he asked the officers to leave, they wouldn’t.
“I was really disappointed and disturbed by the way the police reacted to me. I was under no obligation to let them in my house, but I did so, wanting to collaborate with them and to show good faith,” Chatel-Elie wrote in a statement to Global News.
Dufresne-Lemire says things went south when his client touched the officer to show him the door: she says officers assaulted him and arrested him.
“He touched one of the police officers to show them the door and that’s when they started to brutalize him. You have to treat humans with dignity and it’s the complete opposite of what they did,” Dufresne-Lemire told Global News.
The arrest was caught on camera. Chatel-Elie says the encounter left him injured and afraid.
“When I see the Montreal police, I do not feel safe at all but rather threatened. It is not the first time that I have experienced racial profiling by SPVM agents, it is only the first time that it was actually filmed,” Chatel-Elie wrote.
“”I felt that this was racial profiling. I felt betrayed and abused by them.”
Dufresne-Lemire says the interaction and subsequent arrest were a violation of her clients’ right of presumption of innocence. She added that officers told her client that they were pressing charges against him. So far, they haven’t, according to the lawyer.
Montreal police declined our request for an interview saying they can’t comment on specific cases.
Alain Babineau, an advisor for the Centre on Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) and a former RCMP officer saw the video. From what he saw, he says, there was apparent use of excessive force.
“It’s pretty egregious, it’s a noise complaint,” Babineau said.
“There’s no police academy where this issue would be acceptable.”
“At first glance, when I look at this, it shouldn’t have gone to this level,” Babineau said, adding that people should never touch a police officer.
“We tell people this all the time – don’t touch the police, do not put your hand on the police in any way shape or form, this is a terrible idea. Automatically, it’s an assault,” Babineau explained. “I’m not saying this to justify the excessive use of force.”
Babineau also encourages people to forego posting incidents on social media and to file formal complaints instead.
“They can’t only post things online, that’s not going to go anywhere. Even a lawsuit is not going on the officer’s file,” Babineau said. He says a formal complaint will help track the individual officer and can have more impact.
Racial profiling and racial discrimination against Black people is a systemic problem in Canada, according to numerous reports and experts.
Black Canadians account for 3.5 per cent of the country’s total population, according to the latest government statistics, but are over-represented in federal prisons by more than 300 per cent, as found by the John Howard Society.
A Black person is nearly 20 times more likely than a white person to be involved in a fatal shooting by Toronto police, a 2018 report by the Ontario Human Rights Commission found, and Black Canadians are more likely to experience inappropriate or unjustified searches during encounters and unnecessary charges or arrests. They’re also more likely to be held overnight by police than white people.
Black Canadians experience disparities in health outcomes compared to the population at large, and studies show they often face barriers and discrimination within health-care systems. Black people report higher rates of diabetes and hypertension compared to white people, which researchers say may stem from experiences of racism in everyday life.
Indigenous Peoples, who represent about five per cent of the population in Canada, also experience poorer health outcomes and face discrimination within health-care systems and by police. According to Statistics Canada, they are grossly over-represented in the prison system — Indigenous men made up 28 per cent of male admissions to custody in 2017-18 — and, according to the John Howard Society, are nearly eight times more likely to be murdered. According to the Canadian Department of Justice, Indigenous women and girls are more than three times more likely to experience sexual assault and violence and are between six and 12 times more likely to be killed, depending on the province or territory.