Advertisement

Elderly Montreal man says he was assaulted by police after asking officer to wear mask

Click to play video: 'Eldery Black man claims Montreal police interception escalated when he asked officer to wear mask'
Eldery Black man claims Montreal police interception escalated when he asked officer to wear mask
WATCH: An elderly Black man says he was assaulted by a Montreal police officer last week after he asked the officer to put his mask on. The 73-year-old originally from Haiti said the incident happened while he was on his way to pick his wife up from work – Dec 8, 2021

An elderly Black man says he was assaulted by a Montreal police officer last week, after he asked the officer to put his mask on.

Maurice Verjin, 73, says the incident happened while he was on his way to pick his wife up from work, and that he’s still dealing with the injuries he suffered.

“I’ve had no sleep,” Verjin told Global News in an interview.

He claims a questionable traffic stop led to him being assaulted by officers. The Saint-Michel resident, originally from Haiti, says he was driving through the intersection of Jean-Talon and Chateaubriand as he was heading to pick his wife up from work around 11:30p.m. He said as he was driving south on Chateaubriand, officers were heading west on Jean Talon.

Read more: Inquiry into wrongful arrest of Black man by Montreal police flawed according to lawyers

Story continues below advertisement

“I noticed the sirens,” he said. “I wondered why the sirens were lit up, so I stopped to let them pass.”

Verjin claims he braked at a green light to let the police car cross his path. Instead, he says officers stopped in front of his car and came to his window.

He says they flashed a flashlight in his face, and he got out of the car to ask why he was being pulled over.

They told him to get back in and asked for his licence, but his concerned wife kept calling him.

“That’s when the police ripped the phone out of my hands. He took it,” Verjin recalls.

He claims the officer started yelling at him, and with neither man masked, says droplets starting landing on his face and mouth.

“I told him, ‘Hey, put your mask on,’ and at that moment the fight broke out. He smashed my face three times on the steering wheel,” Verjin says.

Verjin showed Global News a broken pair of glasses he says were destroyed in the incident. He claims they put him on the cold pavement, put a knee on his back and handcuffed him.

Not long after, they put him in the squad car.

Story continues below advertisement

Read more: Quebec invests $900,000 to train police to avoid racial profiling

“He threw me like a garbage into the car. My head was in the car, but my feet were still outside. Even still, he tried to close the door on my legs,” Verjin says.

After a few hours he says the officers finally let him go with a document demanding he appear in court on charges of disrupting police work.

He still does not know why officers even came to his car in the first place.

“For me, this is clear: it’s racism going on,” said Melissa Verjin, Maurice’s 32-year-old daughter. “If it was a white man, I don’t think he would have been be pulled over. I don’t think anything would have gone to this extent.”

Verjin says he was diagnosed with a mild concussion after he visited Jean Talon Hospital. He has pain and swelling in his legs and back.

“He’s in shock and he’s been traumatized. He now has migraines that … come and go, and it’s very strong migraines now. He has to be on painkillers, and not just Advil,” said his daughter.

She says he’s now also experiencing memory loss.

Story continues below advertisement

“My dad has a very strong memory. I’m very worried about his health condition right now because it’s just getting worse,” she said.

Among the many Montrealers outraged by the incident is the area’s National Assembly member Frantz Benjamin, who knows Verjin.

“It is a case of police brutality and false, excessive use of force,” Benjamin told Global News. “I ask that light be shed on this intervention.”

Montreal police would not comment directly on the case, but pointed to the complaint process.

“The Montreal Police doesn’t usually comment on specific police interventions, to prevent all influence on an eventual legal, ethical or administrative process,” said spokesperson Anik de Repentigny.

Verjin will be filing a complaint and is in the process of hiring a lawyer.

Sponsored content