Quebec City police Chief Denis Turcotte said Thursday his department was investigating two more violent arrests caught on video involving his officers, adding that one officer is involved in at least three separate incidents.
The city’s police force has started investigating a total of four separate violent arrests since last weekend, when a video recorded early Saturday morning began circulating online of officers hitting and dragging two Black youth outside a nightclub. That video led to the suspension this week of five officers.
On Thursday, Turcotte told reporters that one of the five suspended police officers is involved in at least three of the four violent arrests under investigation. Turcotte said he remained confident in his force.
“I reiterate my full confidence in my troops,” he told a news conference. “They do an essential job for our society. Our city is one of the safest cities in the world and that’s thanks to you, dear colleagues.”
Turcotte said Thursday his department opened a third internal investigation. This time, he said, the force was studying a video from Oct. 16 appearing to show a police officer shoving a man into a wall before the man falls to the ground and is handcuffed.
Turcotte said the department is also investigating an incident caught on video in which a police officer is heard swearing at a man and threatening to pepper-spray him before shoving him.
Earlier this week, officials said the province’s police ethics commissioner opened independent investigations into two separate violent arrests that occurred last weekend, both of which were video-recorded. One video depicts the violent arrest of a man inside a Quebec City-area restaurant on Friday. The other video involves officers violently arresting two Black youth early Saturday morning.
Turcotte said the four incidents under investigation involve a specialized police squad that patrols the city’s bars. He said the investigations will try and determine what happened before the events that were captured on video.
“We are investigating to know what took place before it happened,” he said. “That’s where we’ll see if it’s abusive or not.”
Asked about allegations of racial profiling by Quebec police, Turcotte said he didn’t want to get into a discussion about the definition of the term, but he said if people feel they have been stopped by police because of their race, they should report it.
The Quebec City police service includes racialized people, Turcotte said, but he said the force has not had a Black officer since the 1990s. That officer, he added, left the force to work in the Montreal region. Turcotte said efforts are being made to diversify the city’s police service.
Maxim Fortin, the co-ordinator of the Quebec City section of the Ligue des droits et libertes, a civil liberties group, said the police service has two separate but interrelated problems: systemic racism and a disregard for the rights of citizens who don’t obey officers during interventions.
“There is a problem of systemic racism, which translates into racial profiling and eventually results in police brutality,” Fortin said in an interview Thursday. If that problem isn’t recognized, he said, it can’t be solved.