MONTREAL – A Laval police officer racially abused a Black man while stopping at a gas station in 2017 and broke the code of ethics by shoving him and deleting recordings of his interactions on the phone. This man’s phone calls, the Quebec police ethics committee ruled.
In a harsh decision made last week, the jury punished officer Michael Boutin for knocking the man’s Samsung phone out of his hand and then asking him to unlock it to he can delete the footage.
At the end of a May 14, 2017 scuffle at the Laval gas station over an alleged distracted driving offense, the officer told Pradel Content, who is black, that he was lucky to live in Quebec and not the United States “because they shoot people like you there,” the committee’s written decision quoted the official as saying.
Content, according to the decision, returned fire: “but at least the policeman was shot back.”
At a virtual news conference on Friday, Content said it was a “difficult and exhausting” road to holding the officer accountable but was happy with the committee’s decision.
“It’s not what you want to hear. I wasn’t scared – I was shocked,” Contet said of the officer’s “condescending” remarks to him that day.
He admits that without surveillance footage from the gas station on the boulevard des Laurentides, the case could have had a very different outcome.
“The gas station scene saved me because the original footage I had, he deleted it. So that left me with nothing, which was scary,” he said.
The officer handed Content a $127 traffic ticket after the 2017 encounter. Not only did he contest the ticket – and win – he also filed a complaint with the Quebec Court of Human Rights, the Commission for Human Rights. Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission, and the province’s Police Ethics Committee on his treatment four years ago.
While his case was still in court, he won the case with the human rights commission in October 2020 and was awarded $24,000 in punitive damages.
PERSONAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR VIOLATIONS OF THE Ethics Code
In its second win, the police ethics committee said in its November 18 decision that it upheld six of the 12 violations against Boutin.
The content testified that he only pulled out his cell phone for filming after getting out of his Cadillac Escalade at a gas station because he noticed that Boutin had briefly followed him on the cruiser. his police, but Boutin alleges that the man began filming him before he was ejected from the vehicle, thereby violating the Highway Traffic Act, and was arrested for refusing to be identified. count.
However, the commission did not purchase the officer’s version of events and found most of his testimony not only unreliable but also “ridiculous” and “unbelievable”.
For example, the officer told the committee that Content shoved his phone in his face while filming, but surveillance footage shows Content holding it to his chest and not “brushing his teeth.”
Meanwhile, this employee swung Content’s phone with his left hand, threw it on the ground and pushed him into his car. Content at the time had mobility issues and had to use sticks.
‘RACE TO PLAY THE DEFINITION ROLE’
The man said he started filming the officer because he said he had been harassed by police in the past and wanted to protect his rights.
The committee found there was no doubt that the interference was racially motivated and described the officer’s behavior as “overzealous” and “excessive”.
“The panel believes that Mr. Content played a certain role in Constable Boutin’s decision to stop him,” the ruling stated.
“Indeed, although Constable Boutin may have had a good reason to stop Mr Content, he has no reason to act as he did when he slapped Mr Content in the arm and shoved him.”
The content said the ordeal had made him afraid of the police and that he would not feel safe until there was a dash cam in the police patrol boat because “cameras don’t lie.”
“There are good officers, but the bad ones have to be uprooted and they have to be monitored,” he said on Friday.
Laval police agency wrote in a statement to CTV News that it will provide “full and complete cooperation in the application of sanctions when identified.”
“Integrity, respect and diversity are at the heart of our service values and guide our daily actions and ongoing commitment to the Laval community.”
CITIZEN HAS THE RIGHTS TO POSITION VIDEOS
Courts have repeatedly ruled that citizens have the right to film police officers in the course of their duties, and Boutin’s case panel has reaffirmed that.
“Police Boutin has even less justification for destroying the video on its own, especially since the video is evidence and its removal violates Mr.
A 2016 police ethics committee ruling said camera officers had become easy with cell phone cameras and there was nothing stopping a person from recording when they saw a police officer.
“The police must now deal with this reality.”
OFFERING THE cop ‘CLEARLY NOW IN QUEBEC’: RESEARCH
It may explain why a new study released Tuesday shows an increasing number of police officers in Quebec are segregated from the public and avoiding certain situations.
According to research by Camille Faubert, a researcher at the Quebec Police Academy, École nationale de Police du Québec, fear of being filmed is considered one of the most common reasons.
However, the research is limited as only 186 police officers across the province were surveyed and 21 agreed to be interviewed, including sergeants, police officers and captains.
Of the 21 officers interviewed, eight said they had evaded in certain situations, while 16 said they observed the behavior of fellow officers.
One of the officers told the researchers that he lamented the fact that police officers were being watched so closely.
“We could be subject to disciplinary consequences in terms of discipline, and we could be criminally charged for doing our job,” the officer said.
“The fact that we have like 3 authorities there to let us rap on our knuckles if something is not perfect. So I think this is also… this is one of those things that can scare people into doing their job. “
Content reacted to Friday’s report, telling reporters he believes police officers should focus more on acting appropriately and worry less about public scrutiny.
“As long as you treat someone the way you’re supposed to treat them, you shouldn’t worry about the camera,” he says.
“If you don’t do anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.”
Fo Niemi, executive director of the Montreal-based Center for Action-Research on Race Relations, backed Content in his complaints to watchdogs regarding the challenge. his. He said he hopes that the lengthy process for Content is not a deterrent from others complaining about police misconduct.
“The process is complicated and time consuming, but people shouldn’t be afraid of all these obstacles and people have to be really determined and show perseverance,” he said.