Capt. Pierre Emanuel Joseph, a 37-year-old Black man, held a press conference Wednesday alongside members of The Red Coalition, a Canadian anti-police profiling and systemic racism lobbying organization. They detailed what they called the “egregious treatment” he was subjected to back in the fall of 2021 when police stopped him in Laval, Que. while he was out on a long-distance run.
“The treatment received from the Laval Police by Captain Joseph reveals a serious problem with a police culture that sees any Black person as a potential criminal and a liar,” Red Coalition director Alain Babineau said in a statement.
Capt. Joseph detailed his account of the events to Global News on Wednesday, saying he was out in the afternoon in question and was stopped by officers while on the road next to the sidewalk. He was on a residential street just a few houses down from where he lived when police pulled up to him, he said.
During the stop, one of the officers allegedly held up his phone screen showing him a bylaw stating he was technically jaywalking because he was running on the road, not the sidewalk.
“They told me they were giving me a ticket, they asked for my ID and I told them I didn’t have it on me. I told them I was in the military, which they mocked,” he alleged.
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Joseph then said the two officers circled him and began telling him they knew who he was, that they had seen him driving around in an Audi and had been giving police the finger. The 37-year-old went on to recall that police wouldn’t let him speak.
“When I tried, they would interrupt me and continue speaking. I was trying to tell them that I have never driven an Audi.”
He said because he saw the situation was becoming increasingly intimidating, he agreed to the arrest after offering to show them his ID, which was just down the street.
“They put me in the patrol car, where they began saying things like ‘you are gonna spend a few weeks in jail’. Then they took me out in front of my house, handcuffed in front of my neighbours and asked the tenants of my duplex if they knew who I was, to which they answered I was their landlord.”
He said they then took his keys, entered his home and found his uniform and his wallet which contained his military ID.
The officers allegedly threw his uniform on the ground, mocked it for being fake, and then removed his handcuffs and issued him the $59 jaywalking ticket.
In an email to Global News, Laval police said it has taken note of the press surrounding the incident but said it wouldn’t comment on the event until the ethics investigation is final to not harm its independent process.
The department stressed, however, that its force “does not tolerate any form of discrimination.”
“Integrity, respect and diversity are at the heart of the values of our police department and guide our daily actions and our commitment to the community,” Laval Police spokesperson Erika Landry said in a statement.
Global News has obtained a copy of the police ethics commission report, which shows one of the officers involved in the incident has previously been sanctioned for profiling.
Joseph said he subsequently contacted Laval police director Pierre Bourget, who referred him to a manager who he says was sympathetic to the story. Joseph then filed complaints with the police ethics commissioner and the human rights and youth rights commission of Quebec.
Then, things took a turn. About two months later, to Joseph’s surprise, he was charged by the Laval police force for obstructing an officer by refusing to identify himself. Laval police also contacted the Canadian Forces Military Police to report their version of events, he said.
Joseph said when he spoke with the military police to describe his account of the incident, he alleges the investigator was dismissive and unsupportive.
“Military Police personnel are held to a very high standard. Accountability measures to enforce these standards are rigorous,” a statement from the National Defence said. “For this particular case, while we cannot get into details for privacy reasons, we can say that the Chain of Command was aware of the situation and continues to provide support to the member.”
Joseph has served in the military for 12 years and still holds his position of aerospace engineer and rank as Captain with the Armed Forces.
Babineau told Global News that if someone like Joseph lives that type of experience at the hands of law enforcement, no person of colour is exempt.
“If Captain Joseph, who has been serving his country for over a decade is going to be treated that way by police, no Black person is immune from racial profiling.”
Due to the “mental and physical fatigue” he suffered after this incident, Joseph said he agreed to an out-of-court settlement on the criminal charges of obstruction to avoid any further trouble with his local police force.
He says he has since moved and no longer lives at his previous address to avoid any further conflict or intimidation.
‘Running while Black’ is a well-documented safety risk that Black people face, along with driving and many other daily activities that puts them at risk of police checks that can lead to violence.
The provincial government recently appealed Quebec’s Superior Court landmark ruling in the Luamba decision, which banned random police stops.
–with files from Phil Carpenter, Global News