Allegations of racial profiling | A black SPVM police officer sues the SQ

Arrested while driving a luxury vehicle: a black police officer from the Montreal City Police Service (SPVM) is suing four officers from the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) for racial profiling. The 43-year-old man, who has been with the SPVM for 15 years, claims to have been unfairly targeted and is demanding more than $100,000 from the provincial police force.

What there is to know

A black man, a police officer with the Montreal City Police Service (SPVM), is suing the Sûreté du Québec (SQ).

The 43-year-old victim alleges that four SQ officers unfairly stopped her and pushed her to the ground after seeing her behind the wheel of a luxury vehicle in 2021.

The father is demanding more than $100,000 from the police force and the agents. The latter would have targeted him because they wanted to know if he was going to participate in a rally against health measures in the middle of a pandemic.

René* has been overwhelmed by a deep feeling of humiliation for three years. He lost faith in his profession. He questions his professional choices. The event that changed everything – the narrative of which is recounted in the continuation – occurred in September 2021.

A court order prevents us from revealing the identity of the complainant, an SPVM agent in his forties with 15 years of seniority. His request for anonymity was granted because he fears reprisals.

September 2021. René recently purchased an SUV. He goes to his sister’s house in Joliette one fall morning behind the wheel of his new car. He drives with the windows down while listening to kompa, typically Haitian music.

He noticed several SQ patrol cars around the Joliette courthouse that day. The street on which he travels is perpendicular to where the officers are parked in their service vehicles.

When he was about to cross another street, one of the SQ vehicles moved behind his car, according to the facts recounted in the lawsuit.

René parks in the private driveway of his sister’s residence and gets out of his vehicle.

“It was at this moment that the SQ vehicle following him turned on its flashing lights. The Applicant, who is himself a police officer, has the impression that he has just been unfairly profiled,” relates the court document filed Wednesday afternoon and consulted by The Press.

Pushed to the ground, suit says

The complainant is certain: he is targeted because he is a black man driving a luxury car. He committed no offense during the short distance traveled where the police observed him, alleges the prosecutor.

He may brandish his badge to indicate that he belongs to the police, but nothing helps: the SQ agent asks him to identify himself. René refuses to do so since, in his opinion, it is an “illegal” request.

He goes to the front door of his sister’s house to get a surgical mask, he mentions to the patrol officer who calls him. We are then in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The latter intervenes by putting his hand on the Applicant’s shoulder and asks him to identify himself. The Applicant deeming the order illegal does not respond to it. »

He tells his SQ colleague not to touch him and takes out his wallet.

The police officer raises his voice, snatches the object from his hands and pushes him to the ground, according to the complainant’s version.

“He tries in vain to claim his rights, to which Defendant Lavigne-Sauvé responds by asking for reinforcement on the radio waves,” we can read in the lawsuit.

Anti-mask demonstration

SQ agents received the mandate that day to check vehicles coming from outside the city “due to an anti-mask demonstration planned and announced by a black man.”

The police were trying to find out if he was going to participate in the rally.

“The officers repeatedly state that they do not believe he is truly a police officer, that he does not act like police, and that he is behaving strangely,” the court document reads.

Stunned, René provides the coordinates of the neighborhood station where he works and invites the police to contact his supervisor. The latter complied, denouncing the fact that he had brandished his badge, then left the scene.

A complaint in discipline

“In May 2022, (René) was informed that a disciplinary complaint had been filed by the Defendants against him,” the lawsuit states. He is accused of showing his badge without a valid reason.

Since then, he has suffered in his workplace, “can no longer bear to hear derogatory and racist comments”, questions his future and his career choice and falls off work in 2023.

The 43-year-old man, father of two children, is claiming $121,000 from the SQ. He demanded $15,000 from the first officer who arrested him and $7,500 from the three other police officers present.

It is represented by Me Fernando Belton, Me Virginie Dufresne-Lemire and Me M’mah Noura Touré.

“This case highlights the fact that regardless of the social status of a black man, whether he is a lawyer, judge, or police officer, no one is exempt from being a victim of racial profiling,” said Ms.e Belton.

Denouncing racial profiling is difficult for a police officer, believes the criminal lawyer. “This seriously shook his personal beliefs about his profession. There is the risk of reprisals from colleagues and the perception in the community. »

The Press reported last week that a black RCMP officer was pursuing an SPVM officer for similar reasons.

Read “Allegations of racial profiling: Black RCMP officer sues Montreal police”

* Fictitious first name


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