Category Archives: Montreal

Video Shows Montreal Police Shoot Nicholas Gibbs in the Back (Black Lives Matter)

On August 21, 2018 Montreal police shot and killed 23-year-old Nicholas Gibbs, a young Black man. He was shot five times, twice in the back. On October 30, 2018, eyewitness video of the police killing of Nicholas Gibbs was released publicly by the Gibbs family and their support network. The video clearly shows that Nicholas Gibbs posed no direct threat to police when he was killed. Police shouted at him in French only, though Gibbs spoke English. The family has announced a lawsuit against the Montreal police.

Nicholas Gibbs was the father of three young children. A fundraising campaign has been established to support the Gibbs family through this awful time. Families of people killed by police are not eligible for any of the state support that is now made available to victims of criminal acts.

The fundraising campaign can be accessed here: https://www.gofundme.com/justice-pourfor-nicholas-gibbs

The video (Warning: it shows Nicholas Gibbs killing by police): https://www.facebook.com/NoBordersMediaNetwork/posts/458611824546185

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Montreal Police Shoot and Kill 23-Year-Old Nicholas Gibbs (Aug. 21, 2018)

Montreal police shot and killed a 23-year-old man in the borough of Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (NDG) during the evening of August 21, 2018. The victim has been identified as Nicholas Gibbs by the provincial bureau of independent investigations (BEI), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Quebec.

The BEI reports that Montreal police were called to the intersection of Montclair Avenue and De Maisonneuve Boulevard regarding a fight that allegedly took place between two men Tuesday night. During the police encounter Nicholas Gibbs was shot and killed. The BEI claim that one officer opened fire, shooting the victim at least once. Residents in the neighborhood have claimed that they heard several shots and saw five or six police vehicles. Nicholas Gibbs was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.


Quebec Provincial Police Kill Teenage Boy Near Montreal (July 25, 2018)

Officers of Quebec’s provincial force, the Sûreté du Québec (SQ), shot and killed a teenage boy in the early morning of July 25, 2018. The shooting occurred in a public area along Route 104 in Lac-Brome, southeast of Montreal.

The Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in Quebec, report that police responded to a 911 call at about 1:20 AM Wednesday morning. The BEI say police encountered the youth and attempted to speak to him over a loudspeaker. Officers then opened fire, killing the young man. While the victim was later allegedly found to be holding a handgun, the BEI cannot confirm that it was functional or that it was his.

Eight investigators have been assigned to investigate the killing. The BEI is not an independent oversight body and Montreal police technicians will be involved in the investigation.


Killer Cop Patrick Ouellet Found Guilty of Dangerous Driving for Killing Five-Year-Old Nicholas Thorne-Belance

Killer cop Patrick Ouellet has been found guilty of dangerous driving in the death of five-year-old Nicholas Thorne-Belance on Montreal’s South Shore in 2014. The Quebec provincial police (Sûreté du Québec, SQ) officer was in an unmarked police cruiser, tailing a suspect at more than 100 km/h in a 50 km/h zone, when he struck and killed Nicholas Thorne-Belance in Saint-Hubert.

In a ruling issued Thursday, July 19, 2018, in Longueuil, Quebec court Judge Éric Simard concluded there was nothing to justify the speed at which Ouellet was driving and that there were “inherent” risks in that activity.

Wrote Simard in his decision: “His failure to take steps to avoid such risks constitutes a marked departure from the standard of care that a reasonable person in the same situation would follow” (quoted in Turnbull 2018).

Ouellet reached a speed of 134 km/h on Gaétan-Boucher Boulevard in the period before the accident — and 108 km/h at the moment of impact. At the intersection of Gaétan-Boucher and Davis, Ouellet struck a vehicle carrying two children in the backseat. Nicholas Thorne-Belance was critically injured and died in hospital five days later (Turnbull 2018).

Ouellet had tried to claim in trial that the crash was unavoidable. The Crown argued that the driving was “objectively dangerous.”

Incredibly, the Crown had initially decided to not lay charges. That decision was only reversed in 2015 after Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée ordered an independent review of the case amid growing community outcry. The first inclination of the state is always to protect the state. Community mobilization can affect that.

Sentencing is scheduled for October 22, 2018. Convictions for dangerous driving causing death carry a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison. We will see if a killer cop gets anything near that.

 

Further Reading

Turnbull, Jay. 2018. “Quebec Police Officer Found Guilty of Speeding, Causing Death of 5-Year-Old.” CBC News. July 19. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-officer-guilty-boys-death-1.4751032


Trial Begins for Killer Cop Patrick Ouellet in Death of 5-Year-Old Nicholas Thorne-Belance

On Monday, June 11, 2018, trial began for killer cop Patrick Ouellet of the provincial police force, the Sûreté du Québec (SQ), in the death of five-year-old Nicholas Thorne-Belance in 2014. Officer Ouellet is charged with one count of dangerous driving causing death in the case. Thorne-Belance was a passenger in his father’s car when it was struck by the unmarked police cruiser driven by Ouellet. Ouellet’s vehicle was traveling at more than 120 km/h in a 50 km/h zone in the Longueuil borough of Saint-Hubert, south of Montreal when he hit the vehicle the five-year-old  was in. The trial is scheduled to last two weeks.


Family Say Montreal Police Brutally Beat Koray Celik: Refute Police Account of His Death

Koray Kevin Celik (28) died during a police intervention at his family’s Île-Bizard home one year ago. On March 6, 2018, his family organized a vigil outside the Pierrefonds police station to commemorate their loved one and raise some troubling questions about police actions, and accounts of their actions, in Koray Celik’s death. Celik’s parents, Cesur and June, say their son needs to be remembered and what happened to him needs to be discussed publicly. And this discussion needs to happen loudly and often until there is some change (Feith 2018).

Koray Kevin Celik, 28, died during a police intervention at the family’s Île-Bizard home one year ago when the young man was experiencing some distress. Said Cesur Celik: “My son was in crisis and was in a vulnerable state. When the police walked in, he was standing. When they left, they carried his body out. He lost his life in their hands, in front of our eyes.” (quoted in Feith 2018).

Celik acknowledged that the parents called the police seeking help and assistance. The call was made a bit before 2 AM. The parents did not want him their son to hurt himself or to leave the house (Feith 2018). They now express regret at having called police at all.

What happened during the police intervention is under investigation. Few details have been made public. According to Quebec’s Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI), the body that examines police interventions connected to deaths or injuries in the province, Montreal police responded to a call regarding a distressed man. The official story says that upon arriving at the house in Île-Bizard, Koray Celik became aggressive and suffered a fatal heart attack while police tried to control him (Feith 2018).

Cesur Celik, who says he witnessed the interaction in his home, rejects the bureau’s public version of events. He says four officers “brutally and viciously beat” his son before he died (2018). The family is considering legal action against the Montreal police force. They have tried to see a police incident report, autopsy, or coroner’s report but their efforts have been thwarted at each turn. The lack of information has added to the family’s grief. Says Cesur Celik: “We’ve been living with this nightmare ever since. One year later and there is still nothing. How can that be?” (quoted Feith 2018).

The Montreal police force (SPVM) has refused to comment on what happened the night Koray Celik died. Since June 2016, the BEI has investigated 72 cases. These include 37 fatal police interventions and five deaths that occurred during police detention (Feith 2018).

At the March 6 vigil, family and friends held signs reading : “Justice for Koray”; “We will not go away”; “The law applies to everyone” (Feith 2018).

 

Further Reading

Feith, Jesse. 2018. “A Year After Fatal Police Intervention in Île-Bizard Questions and Pain Linger.” Montreal Gazette. March 6. http://montrealgazette.com/news/a-year-after-fatal-police-intervention-in-ile-bizard-questions-and-pain-linger


Shocking Video of Pierre Coriolan’s Killing by Montreal Police Released as Family Sues City

We have written extensively on the lack of proper public reporting of police killings of civilians in Canada, the fact that police control the flow of information and what is released publicly, and the lack of truly independent and autonomous oversight of police in Canada. Not all provinces in Canada have oversight agencies at all to investigate cases of police harm to civilians and those that exist are not truly independent or autonomous. Some, like the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI) in Quebec rely on active police force members for investigations.

These facts were put fully, and painfully and violently, on display on Wednesday, February 7, 2018, as the family of Montreal police shooting victim Pierre Coriolan announced that they are suing the City of Montreal over the “brutal and excessive” police intervention in which their loved one was killed by officer on June 27, 2017. The family also released a horrific video  of the police killing taken by a neighbor on a cellphone and passed to the family recently. It shows Coriolan being shot approximately 45 seconds into the police intervention. Lawyers for the Coriolan family suggest that the entire direct encounter lasted about one minute and ten seconds, during which time multiple weapons were used against the victim, including after he had been shot by police and was on the ground.

Pierre, Coriolan, a 58-year-old Black immigrant from Haiti, was shot and killed by in the hallway outside his apartment after police reportedly responded to calls about a man yelling and smashing things inside his apartment on Robillard Avenue near St-André Street, in the city’s gay village.

The killing again raises issues of police violence, poverty, racism, and mental health issues. In addition, there have been concerns about the information provided publicly by police and the BEI regarding the killings of civilians by police.

 

The Video

The four minute cellphone video, recorded by the neighbor, an eyewitness to the killing, shows a chaotic scene in the hallway of the apartment building. Officers apparently use plastic bullets, a taser, and their firearms against Coriolan. He was allegedly holding some object, variously described as a screwdriver or a knife.

The BEI have reported in a statement released at the time of the shooting that police first received 911 calls about Coriolan making noise in his apartment at about 7 PM. The cellphone video begins at 7:30 PM. It is not certain from the video how long officers had been on the scene at that point or what their engagement with Coriolan involved up to that point.

The first five seconds of the video are audio only, without recorded video images. The audio records what is believed to be a gun firing a plastic bullet, followed by the crackling sound of a taser having been fired. Five officers then become visible with weapons drawn. They are crowded into the hallway, their backs to the camera. Other officers off-camera can be heard yelling from around a corner in the hallway.

Pierre Coriolan comes into view eight seconds into the video. He appears to exit his apartment and walk toward the officers. Very soon after he moves from his apartment two or three gunshots are heard, but the image is obscured as the neighbor with the camera ducks somewhat into his apartment. When the camera focuses back on the hallway, an officer is heard yelling, “À terre! (Hit the ground!).”

Coriolan is in view, on his knees, with four officers visible, and still pointing weapons at him. The victim is heard telling the officers, in French, “Pas capable (I can’t).”

At that point, one of the officers is heard, incredibly, asking a colleague in French, “Do you have another shot?” After an unintelligible response, the officer yells, “Take the other shot.”

At that point, two shots ring out. It is not clear what has been fired, plastic bullets or live ammunition.

In response to the gunshots, Pierre Coriolan collapses fully on the ground. Only his legs are visible in the frame. Only then is an officer heard to yell, “Knife.”

A first officer approaches Coriolan and kneeling beside him, appears to search for a weapon, rather than offering any medical care or attention. Shockingly, another officer then approaches Coriolan, extends a telescopic baton, and swings it twice with heavy force toward the victim’s arm. Coriolan is heard to grunt in pain.

Officers lower their weapons, and one is heard speaking into his radio to say, “A man, possibly injured by gunshot.” Clearly they knew he had been hit and injured.

The officers are standing talking to each other calmly. One says, “It’s a screwdriver he had.” Another officer says, “No, it was a knife.” Only then are officers heard saying, “He’s injured. He’s hit.”

Coriolan’s legs can be seen convulsing as one officer says the stricken man is still breathing. Another officer responds saying, “No, he’s not breathing.”

The video ends when an officer demands that witnesses in the hallway get back into their apartments. Pierre Coriolan would be pronounced dead later that evening in hospital.

 

Disturbing Actions Leave Disturbing Questions

Pierre Coriolan’s killing was met with protests and calls for action by community activists and organizers, including Black Lives Matter organizers. Community activists Will Prosper and Maguy Métellus joined the family’s lawyers and Joanne Coriolan, the victim’s niece at the press conference releasing the video and announcing the family lawsuit. The lawsuit was launched by two of Coriolan’s sisters who were not present at the news conference. They are seeking a total of $163,426 in damages.

Prosper, a former RCMP officer, expressed shock and disbelief upon first viewing the video. In his words: “The first question I asked myself is, ‘Why don’t you take the time?’ There’s no rush” (quoted Rukavina in 2018).

Prosper raised the question on everyone’s mind since the killing last year, which is why a man was shot and killed for making noise in his own apartment. As Prosper points out: ”The only thing Pierre was threatening was his own apartment. He was not a threat to anybody else” (quoted in Rukavina 2018).

Prosper was even more stark in his questioning of why a kneeling man was viewed as such a threat. He asks: “What is the threat of a black man kneeling down? It’s a firing squad he’s facing” (quoted in Rukavina 2018).

The only time on the video recording that police even directly speak to Coriolan is when they order him to the ground after he has already been shot. Says Propser: “You see there’s no communication, nothing mentioned to him as he’s kneeling down” (quoted in Rukavina 2018). After the man has been shot and is on the ground police do not even ask after his condition. Instead they hit him with a telescopic baton.

Alain Arsenault, a member of the family’s legal team, said that they have little faith in the BEI investigation and that said a lawsuit is the best available avenue to obtain justice for Coriolan. It may be the only way that the public can find out any meaningful information about the actions of police.

Arsenault said that the decision to release the video was prompted partly by frustration over the slow pace of the investigation and the oversight agency’s refusal to provide updates to the family. These are repeated concerns expressed by family members of people killed by police across Canada.

 

The video can be found here: https://news.google.com/news/video/ow10u5_zod4/dDnbIQ6E5KSZOqMJZ2vQh0aMMunjM?hl=en&gl=US&ned=us

 

Further Reading

Rukavina, Steve. 2018. “Family of Montreal Man Fatally Shot by Police Sues Over “Brutal Intervention.” CBC News. February 7.  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/montreal-video-police-shooting-rcmp-coriolan-1.4523348