Quebec City police are facing a second independent probe into their conduct, following the release of another violent arrest video from last weekend, the province’s public security minister said Wednesday.
Five Quebec City police officers were suspended with pay Tuesday following the violent arrest of two Black teens caught on video in Old Quebec early Saturday. The police’s ethics commissioner is investigating.
On Wednesday, Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault announced a second investigation by the police ethics commissioner. The new probe, she said, involved the violent arrest of a white male that occurred Friday evening outside a restaurant in the city’s Ste-Foy district. The arrest was also caught on video.
A spokeswoman for the Quebec City police said three of the five suspended officers were involved in both violent arrests.
Guilbault said the video relating to the arrest at the restaurant is worrying, adding that the event must also be examined independently. Both arrests are also being investigated internally by the Quebec City police department.
The arrest at the restaurant came just hours before Quebec City police were involved in the violent arrest of two young Black people early Saturday morning. Video circulating online of that arrest showed officers hitting, dragging and pinning at least two Black youth on the ground outside a nightclub.
One of those in the video has been identified as Pacifique Niyokwizera, 18. His lawyer, Fernando Belton, says he also represents a second teen, a 16-year-old girl, who was also on the video being dragged by her hair by police.
Belton said in an interview Wednesday that neither of his clients have been charged, adding that they are looking into filing a lawsuit against the city.
“Anyone who has seen the video can see this for themselves,” Belton said. “Whatever we accuse him of — and for the moment, it’s nothing — nothing justifies this type of intervention (and) the force used.”
Niyokwizera was recovering from a concussion and wasn’t available for an interview, Belton said. “It’s a situation that’s very difficult for him as well as his family.”
Belton said Niyokwizera’s arrest and the way his client was treated are examples of racial profiling.
“When police intercept a racialized person, why do they use so much force?” he asked. “Why are they obliged to keep hitting them after they’ve been brought under control, degrading them by kicking snow in their face?”
Opposition parties at the legislature have called on the province to use the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes, the province’s police watchdog. But Guilbault told reporters the ethics commissioner has broad powers to investigate whether the officers have broken the code of conduct and to decide whether further investigation is needed.
Quebec City Mayor Bruno Marchand told reporters he is satisfied with all the investigations underway and in the police chief’s handling of the incidents.
“It was definitely a bad night,” Marchand told reporters Wednesday. “When we see the sum of what happened in the same evening, it is very worrying.”