Category Archives: Montreal

Police Investigating Police: Lac-Simon Officers who Killed Sandy Michel in 2016 Cleared by Montreal Police

On April 6, 2016 Lac-Simon police shot and killed 25-year-old father of three Sandy Tarzan Michel, after first hitting him with a car. On Thursday, June 15, 2017 The Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions for the province announced its decision not to lay charges against the officers responsible. The Lac-Simon force was not investigated by an independent body but  rather by Montreal police who made the recommendation, not surprisingly, not to lay charges.

Four officers had been sent to Michel’s home, in the Algonquin community of Lac-Simon in western Quebec just south of Val-d’Or, apparently in response to a domestic call. Police claim to have approached Michel on the basis that he was known to them. The police report says Michel exited his house carrying a machete but notes that officers drove into him with their police car. No statement on whether or not this is standard and sanctioned police procedure. Yet the Montreal police did suggest that it was legal activity with which the Director agreed with. When this did not give them the desired result an officer fired four shots and killed the man.

Since this investigation was begun Quebec has established an oversight body the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI, Bureau of Independent Investigations). Only two days before the Lac-Simon announcement, critics held a press conference claiming the BEI was neither transparent nor effective.


Killer Montreal Cop Christian Gilbert Charged for Killing Bony Jean-Pierre

It is among the rarest of occurrences in Canada that a killer cop is ever charged for taking the life of a civilian. Oversight agencies, which are not autonomous or independent of police, prosecutors, and judges work to ensure that the state protects the state and killer cops are legitimized. On Wednesday, May 24, 2017 one of those rare events occurred with the laying of charges against Montreal police officer Christian Gilbert who killed 46-year-old Bony Jean-Pierre on March 31, 2016.

Murder charges against police are unheard of and officer Gilbert has been charged with manslaughter. He shot Jean-Pierre in the head with a rubber bullet, a projectile that police routinely use, as in protests for example, and which police propagandists pose as non-lethal.  The charges were announced by Quebec’s Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP). Officer Gilbert was released under a promise to appear on July 6, 2017.

The Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI, Bureau of Independent Investigations), Quebec’s investigation unit, which now examines incidents of police harm to civilians was not established when the investigation into Jean-Pierre’s killing was initiated. Instead the charges come, incredibly, following an investigation by Quebec provincial police, the Sûreté du Québec (SQ).

The Montreal North community, long angered by police targeting and violence organized and mobilized in response to the police killing of Jean-Pierre. At least 100 people participated in a march and rally in June. At that time some cars and banks were vandalized and objects thrown at the police station in a community uprising. The march occurred on what would have been the 26th birthday of Fredy Villanueva, a young man shot and killed by police in 2008 when Montreal policed moved aggressively to break up a game of dice in a park. Yes, he was killed for playing dice. The killing of Fredy Villanueva highlighted the racist targeted policing practices of Montreal police, reinforced by the killing of Bony Jean-Pierre.


Police Standoff Ends in Death of 61-Year-Old Man in Quebec (March 24, 2017)

Quebec’s Bureau of Independent Investigations (BEI) and Montreal police are investigating after a lengthy standoff in Châteauguay ended with the death of a 61-year-old man early in the morning of Friday, March 24, 2017. Police had surrounded the residence on Rossini Street in what they claim was a standoff beginning apparently around 9 AM Wednesday, March 22. A bailiff had called local police to report being confronted by a man inside and they claim to have secured a perimeter upon arrival. Sûreté du Québec (SQ) took over the scene around 8 PM Wednesday.

SQ report that they heard gunshots from inside the house at around 1:30 AM on Friday. Entering, in their report, 12 minutes later they claim to have found the man’s body inside the house. The SQ’s SWAT team as well as investigators from the provincial force’s major crime squad, those trained in crisis negotiations, were reportedly on the scene but there has been no confirmation of whether they communicated with the victim at any point. The various police accounts have not been independently confirmed.


Man (28) Suffers Heart Attack During “Interaction” with Montreal Police (March 6, 2017)

A 28-year-old man suffered a heart attack and died during an “interaction” with Montreal police on Monday, March 6, 2016. The incident occurred around 2 AM when police attended a residence in Ile-Bizard where they claim the victim was intoxicated and involved in some form of domestic dispute. The man died despite efforts of paramedics to revive him.

Quebec’s Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI, Bureau of Independent Investigations), the unit that investigates incidents of police harm to civilians in the province is examining the case. None of the police claims have been independently verified publicly.


Jimmy Cloutier Identified as Man Killed by Montreal Police at Old Brewery Mission, January 6, 2017

The 38-year-old man shot and killed by Montreal Police on Friday, January 6, 2017, has been identified as Jimmy Cloutier, a homeless man who made use of shelter services at the Old Brewery Mission. The Old Brewery Mission  reported that Cloutier was a long-time client who had attended the shelter especially for meals and changes of clothing. Shelter director Matthew Pearce said that Cloutier had participated in a program at Maison Claude-Laramée for homeless people with mental health issues, a program run jointly by the shelter and the Douglas Mental Health University Institute (CBC 2017). Cloutier had no attended the shelter for four years after completing the program. Pearce reported that over the past year, Cloutier had been a “fairly frequent visitor” and seemed fine the day of the shooting, stopping by the cafeteria to get coffee (CBC 2017).

Surveillance camera video from the police killing of Cloutier shows the victim tossing a cup of liquid, presumed to be coffee from the shelter, on the ground before bending over, apparently to set something else down, before then picking up a bag and walking out of the view of the camera (CTV Montreal 2017). Cloutier is pursued by several police officers clearly holding firearms. The man was shot and killed only seconds later. Police claim that he was armed and made some “aggressive gesture” at them, but this has not been independently confirmed.

Indeed homeless people on the scene were upset that the police had used lethal force against Cloutier and deployed it so quickly. They have asked why no alternatives were attempted first. Police became aggrieve with homeless people on the scene who merely raised questions about the actions taken by police. Those wondering why police chose not to use less-lethal options have continued to raise concerns. According to Milosz Janda, the Old Brewery Mission social counsellor: “They just want to find out what was the reason for such behaviour? Why was it done that way? Why weren’t other possible approaches there?” (quoted in CTV Montreal 2017).

Cloutier is the fourth homeless person known to have been killed by Montreal police officers in the past few years. This fact is not lost on Old Brewery Mission director Matthew Pearce. He points out the awful history of police engagement with poor and homeless people. According to Pearce: “Four incidents of confrontation with the police, and four deaths. Not injuries – deaths. I have to feel that in each of those there were other options that could have been pursued” (quoted in CTV Montreal 2017). He suggests that police are too fearful and stressed out by homeless and street involved people.

The circumstances of the police killing of Jimmy Cloutier are all too familiar for family members of other homeless people killed by Montreal Police. Pierre Magloire’s brother Alain was shot and killed by police two years ago. Magloire’s response to this latest killing was dismay. In his words: “I was, like, ‘Again? Oh my God.’ How come we are at the same place we were two, three years ago?” (quoted in CTV Montreal 2017). He echoes the belief that police are too panicked in dealing with people who may be experiencing distress: “They are not ready to deal with someone. They are getting afraid very fast” (quoted in CTV Montreal 2017).

These killings are extreme forms of the poorbashing that police regularly inflict on homeless people. It extends from habitual police practices of harassment, intimidation, bullying, and violence. It reflects police perspectives that view homeless people as “problems” or unworthy victims, or detritus.

 

Further Reading

CBC News. 2017. “Video Shows Final Moments of Old Brewery Mission Client, Shot to Death by Police.” CBC News. January 10. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/old-brewery-mission-shooting-victim-identified-1.3928900

CTV Montreal. 2017. Questions Raised by Homeless Shelter after Deadly Police Shooting.” CTV News. http://montreal.ctvnews.ca/questions-raised-by-homeless-shelter-after-deadly-police-shooting-1.3235204


Montreal Police Aggressively Assail Homeless People after Killing Man Outside Shelter

On Friday, January 6, 2017, Montreal police shot and killed a man outside of the Old Brewery Mission. As if inflicting this trauma on homeless people who witnessed police violence was not enough, police then decided to become aggressive with clients of the shelter. It is suggested that the victim of the police shooting had been a client a of the Mission at various points over the course off 11 years.

According to Matthew Pearce, the Director General of the Old Brewery Mission, police became aggressive with people upset by the use of lethal force. Pearce relates: “I was told there was an incident where someone made a critical remark to the police. And the police reacted with some degree of aggression” (quoted in CBC News 2017). The violent response by police to even mild criticism from the public is too common and raises questions about police views on the communities they claim to protect and serve. Pearce suggests that the response was inappropriate. In his words: “We feel that the reaction that the police had to that remark was excessive and I’ll be following up with Montreal’s police chief” (quoted in CBC News 2017).

Pearce noted too the harm that can be done by actions such as the aggressive police targeting of shelter clients. He notes: “Our role is to reduce tensions at all times so it is a concern to us when third parties like the police are inside our building. We don’t want them to contribute to the creating of issues that we then have to work to resolve” (quoted in CBC News 2017). Yet this sort of behavior is too common among police, particularly where homeless and street involved people are concerned.

The Mission’s Director General is now working overtime to ensure that people on the street are confident that the mission is a safe place. According to Pearce: “It’s essential that people, when they come inside the mission, they are leaving the street behind so they are coming to a place of respect of dignity and of security” (quoted in CBC News 2017). A coroner’s investigation earlier suggested that police need improved training when dealing with people who may suffer mental health issues following the killing of a homeless man more than two years ago (CBC News 2016). Psychologists are working with people traumatized by the police action.

 

Further Reading

CBC News. 2017. “Old Brewery Mission Seeks to Reassure Clients after Fatal Police Shooting.” CBC News. January 7. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/old-brewery-mission-reassures-clients-after-police-shooting-1.3926230

CBC News. 2016. “Montreal Police Need Better Training to Deal with Mentally Ill, Coroner Says.” CBC News. March 7. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/police-mental-illness-training-coroner-report-1.3479916


Canada’s First Killing by Cop of 2017 as Montreal Police Kill Man on January 6

Police in Canada did not waste much time into the new year before claiming their first civilian victim of 2017. Montreal police killed the man on the afternoon of Friday, January 6. Police in Quebec also claimed the final civilian death of 2016.

After reports of someone being attacked inside a building at the corner of René-Lévesque Boulevard and St-Urbain Street around 2:30 p.m., a man was followed into an alley near the Old Brewery Mission, on St-Laurent Boulevard, behind the homeless shelter. There he was engaged by officers who ended up shooting and killing him.  Montreal police Const. Daniel Lacoursière reported that the officers fired multiple times at the victim, hitting him at least once in his upper body.

The man was transported to hospital, where he later died of the wounds inflicted by officers. The person who was reportedly injured inside the building are not life-threatening.

This case has been handed over to Quebec’s Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI, Bureau of Independent Investigations) which examines instances of police harm to civilians in the province but which is not a truly independent agency. Nine investigators are initially assigned to investigate this shooting.

Disturbingly media reports immediately turned to poor bashing and criminalization of the victim. Some mused that he was a homeless person who used the shelter. Others suggested that he was a drug dealer (see Durfel 2017). None of this has been confirmed or even suggested by witnesses or members of the BEI.

 

Further Reading

Durfel, Aaron. 2017. “Police Fatally Shoot Man Near Old Brewery Mission.” Montreal Gazette. January 6. http://montrealgazette.com/news/a-man-is-in-hospital-after-a-montreal-police-shooting