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Montreal police investigate violent arrest at park, calls for body cams renewed

A video posted on social media shows an SPVM officer apparently holding a man in a chokehold and pummeling him in the head. Monday April 12, 2021. Courtesy: Leigh O’Brien via @agnes_reiss

Warning: this story contains links to sensitive footage and deals with a sensitive subject matter

Montreal police (SPVM) say they’re reviewing an incident where a man appears to have been violently arrested at a city park this weekend.

The video caused an uproar on social media as it shows an SPVM officer holding a man in a chokehold and then pummeling him in the head several times.

“It was definitely very shocking and concerning,” said Agnes Bebon, who posted a video of the incident on social media.

Read more: Montreal police give no comment on video of man’s violent detaining

Bebon says she didn’t see what led to the event and only became aware when the man was tackled to the ground. However, she believes police’s reaction was excessive.

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“I genuinely do not believe that the reason ever matters,” Bebon said. “Brutality is not excusable in any situation, especially from people who are meant to protect us.”

Police say the incident stemmed from a simple warning for drinking alcohol in public grounds, which is against the law.

According to SPVM inspector David Shane, the man didn’t cooperate and raised his fist, indicating he was willing to fight.

“He did not cooperate and he adopted a combat stance, showing that he was going to resist actively,” Shane said. “So the police officers called for backup. They eventually intervened towards the individual, the individual hit the police officers.”

Shane says the officer used the pummeling as a distracting technique after the man bit him.

Read more: Mamadi Fara Camara receives formal SPVM apology, calls renewed for bodycams

Shane says videos posted to social media don’t show the whole context and that’s important.

“The optics are definitely not good,” said Alain Babineau, a retired RCMP officer and consultant on racial profiling matters.

Babineau believes cases like this prove body cams are needed.

“Let’s equip police officers for their sake as well as for public confidence as a whole,” Babineau told Global News.

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Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante agrees.

READ MORE: Several Montreal boroughs push for the deployment of police body cameras

She once again said she wants Montreal to be included in a provincial pilot project on the use of body cams.

“So we can be better equipped to evaluate, to question in a way that is helpful so we can move forward,” Plante explained.

As for the man, he was arrested for assault against a police officer and obstructing police.

He was released the same day on the promise to appear in court on May 12.

Shane says that if something improper comes out of the SPVM’s investigation, they will take measures.

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