Two officers face sanctions in black man's arrest
Two Montreal police officers face sanctions after illegally arresting a black man in Lasalle almost three years ago.
The Quebec Police Ethics Committee ruled that constables Christopher Brault and Mathieu Boucher-Bacon abused their authority, used illegal force, and illegally detained and arrested Farid Charles in April 2010.
The officers were not cited for racial profiling.
"I am very disappointed by that aspect of the decision," Charles told reporters at a news conference.
Charles said the two officers grabbed him. punched him, threw him to the ground, handcuffed him, and gave him a $144 ticket for wandering without justification, after he refused to show ID. The fine was withdrawn.
Charles, a high school teacher at the time, was just sitting in the passenger seat of the car of his friend, who was getting late-night takeout at a Caribbean restaurant in Lasalle
Fo Niemi, director of the anti-racism lobby group CRARR (Center for Reaearch-Action on Race Relations), said the committee limited its analysis of racial profiling to the first contact with police but then cited the officers for their actions afterwards.
"They knew it was a Caribbean restaurant, they knew the owner is a person of interest, they knew the area was also an area of interest, and they said they didn't realize that this car parked right in front of the restaurant could have been a car associated with a black person," Niemi told reporters.
"The committee is saying, it looks like a duck, it quacks like a duck, it walks like a duck but it's a turkey."
Niemi said they may appeal that aspect.
"That's why we find the decison is a little bit baffling and we feel perhaps this is a way for the Police Ethics Committee to avoid coming out with too many decisions on racial profiling which would create more problems for law enforcement officers."
Charles, now 29, said he is still profoundly affected by the incident.
"A lot of my family and close friends realize when I'm driving and I hear sirens, there's a quick gasp of air, and I feel (...) anxiety. I feel if a problem were to happen, I'm not sure if 9-1-1 is going to be the first person I call at this point," Charles said.
"Instead of being protected, I was hurt by the people that was supposed to protect me."
The officers will be sanctioned in the coming weeks. The maximum penalty they face is a couple of days of suspension, which Charles said is not enough. He said education and racial awareness programs should be part of the punishment.
"For each of these acts, there should be some form of sanctions, some form of punishment, something to show this is not right and what they did was incorrect, because this cannot continuously happen and it is happening a lot," Charles said.
"A lot of people are not speaking about it and that's the problem."
Photos of Farid Charles and Fo Niemi: Shuyee Lee