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.
Category Archives: SQ
The Sûreté du Québec (SQ) officer who killed 17-year-old Brandon Maurice has been identified as Constable Frédéric Fortier during the coroner’s inquest into the 2015 killing. An expert in police “use of force” strategies testified at the inquest that the provincial police officer made a number of critical mistakes. A witness to the killing, Chris Houle, who was in the car with Maurice when the teenager was shot has already testified that the shooting “should have been avoided.”
Constable Frédéric Fortier shot the unarmed Maurice at the end of a police chase through Messines, Québec. He and his partner, Constable Dave Constantin, were cleared of criminal wrong doing after an investigation, that was in no way independent and involved Montreal police in 2016.
The inquest has focused on how Fortier approached the car Maurice was driving at the end of a police pursuit. He approached aggressively with his gun drawn and decided to smash the driver’s-side window to open the car door.
Bruno Poulin, an expert with Quebec’s police academy, so not oppositional to police in any way, testified that the encounter should never have ended with that decision. According to Poulin, the officer narrowed his options by approaching the car overly aggressively and expecting he could physically force the driver from the car. A typical thug approach by police who expect they can impose their authority without question and, if necessary, kill to deal with any mess they create.
In Poulin’s words to the inquest: “He put himself in danger” (quoted in 2018). Poulin said it appears that SQ officers need some retraining. We know that training does nothing to change the power police hold in society and the fact that they can kill with impunity as part of the state’s assertion of its monopoly on violence.
In testimony the previous day Fortier acknowledged that he had gotten himself into trouble but said he would not change his decision to shoot.
Brandon Maurice’s family are considering civil action against the police.
Pfeffer, Amanda. 2018. “Expert Witness at Coroner’s Inquest Says Officer Who Shot Teen Made Mistakes.” CBC News. April 13. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/brandon-maurice-death-inquest-1.4617234
Chris Houle, the person who directly witnessed the police shooting of 17-year-old Brandon Maurice told a coroner’s inquest that it should never have happened. Houle saw the entire interaction from the passenger seat of Maurice’s car. A Sûreté du Québec (SQ), Quebec provincial police, officer shot Maurice as the teen sat in the vehicle’s driver’s seat in the early morning hours of November 16, 2015. The Inquest started in April, 2018.
Said Houle, during his testimony before chief coroner Catherine Rudel-Tessier on April 10: “I may not know a lot about law and police processes; I’m not an expert. But this should have been avoided” (quoted in Pfeffer 2018). The young witness testified over a day and a half.
The killing occurred after a police chase ended about 10 kilometers at chemin de la Ferme and rue Patry, close to Lac Blue Sea in the municipality of Messines, Quebec. Houle testified that he and Maurice sat in the car as an officer approached the driver’s side with his gun drawn. At some point the officer smashed the window and reached into the car. Some type of struggle ensued over the opening of the car door. The officer fired his gun at Maurice shooting the teenager at point-blank range.
Brandon Maurice died in hospital. The pathologist who carried out the autopsy testified at the inquest that Maurice died from a fatal bullet wound through this neck.
Family and friends of Maurice have long insisted that police used excessive force during the encounter and have demanded answers about what happened that day and why police acted the way they did. The officer responsible was not charged for the killing, a typical and in no way surprising outcome when police kill civilians in Canada. The state protects the state.
There is no investigation of police in Quebec that could in any way be considered independent or autonomous. Incredibly Montreal police were asked by Quebec’s police “watchdog,” Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI), to conduct an investigation after the killiing. This is not independence. Not surprisingly that “investigation” decided not to charge the officer. In fact the Montreal investigators were allowed to testify at the inquest.
Pfeffer, Amanda. 2018. “Police Shooting Witness Tells Inquest Teen’s Death “Should Have Been Avoided.” CBC News. April 10. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/brandon-maurice-inquest-tuesday-1.4613032
Shooting a Man in Distress After 30 Seconds Ruled “Not Gratuitous” and “Measured” as Cops Who Killed Chad Murphy Let Off
Police in Canada kill a disproportionate number of people in mental distress. They continue to be deployed to engage with people experiencing mental distress despite the fact that history shows that police respond to those situations with a very quick use of lethal force.
In the case of the killing of Chad Murphy (45), it is estimated that from the moment Sûreté du Québec (SQ) officers opened the door to Murphy’s basement apartment in Île-Perrot, it took only 30 seconds for police to fatally shoot him.
On Monday, February 12, 2018, Quebec’s director of criminal and penal prosecutions (DPCP) announced it will not be filing charges against any of the officers involved in shooting and killing Chad Murphy on October 2, 2016. The SQ had been notified by Murphy’s sister Sharon that he was distressed and suicidal after fleeing in anger from a family dispute. She said at the time that she made the call to get him help not to get him killed.
Officers allegedly tried to talk with Murphy through his apartment door before opening it with a key provided by a neighbor. The DPCP report says officers saw Murphy sitting on his living room floor with a knife in hand and when he saw the officers he started cutting himself. When he stood up and walked toward the door the police shot and killed him. Thirty seconds to interact with and kill a man.
The DPCP ruled that in shooting a man in distress who was harming himself, after only 30 seconds of interaction, the officers involved did not use excessive force and should not face criminal charges. The DPCP statement said: “A legally acceptable use of force is one that is not gratuitous and is applied in a measured way. The intervention was legal and is based primarily on the duty of the police officers to ensure the safety and security of others.” The report does not say that Murphy was using his knife in a way that threatened anyone other than himself. It does not say how many shots police fired.
This is pure propaganda, copaganda. Shooting someone in distress and harming only himself is described as measured. And it does not show how the safety and security of others, the public for example, was threatened. This decision is the state protecting the state.
The DPCP’s decision to not lay charges in the killing of Chad Murphy is based on the investigation by the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI), the body that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province. The BEI is not independent and relies on police forces for their forensic investigation.
Since June of 2016, the BEI has investigated 72 cases. This includes 37 fatal police interventions and four deaths that occurred during police detention. Of all of the investigations completed and turned over to prosecutors so far, none have led to charges against a single officer. The state does indeed protect the state.
Dates Scheduled for Coroner’s Inquest into Killing of Brandon Maurice (17) by Provincial Sûreté du Québec
On January 23, 2018, it was announced that the public coroner’s inquest into the killing of 17-year-old Brandon Maurice by Sûreté du Québec (SQ) officers in the Outouais will be held over the period of April 9-13, 2018. Maurice was shot and killed by SQ officers following a police vehicular pursuit on November 16, 2015. The inquest was initially planned to be held in the fall of 2017.
The inquest will be held at the Palais de Justice in Gatineau. It will be overseen by deputy chief coroner Luc Balouin. Among those now named as being called for testimony are Dave Constantin and Frédérick Fortier of the Sûreté du Québec and Detective-Sergeant Mélanie Simard of the Montréal Police Service, which oversaw an investigation (by no means independent) into the killing.
The state protects the state. Killer cops are rarely charged in Canada. And when they are, they are typically acquitted, even in cases in which they have obviously acted in a dubious, reckless, or murderous manner.
Quebec City police officer Simon Beaulieu backed his police car over Guy Blouin on September 3, 2014, killing the 48-year-old. Beaulieu used this lethal force against Blouin for no other reason than a baseless suspicion that Blouin had stolen a bike. This was apparently a case of class-based police profiling of a working class person in a working class neighborhood. Blouin had, in fact purchased his bike. Officer Beaulieu was charged in October 2015 of criminal negligence and dangerous driving causing death after he struck and killed Blouin.
On Friday, January 12, 2018, killer cops Beaulieu was found not guilty on both counts by Quebec Court Judge René de la Sablonnière. A not surprising result, no matter how unjust.
De la Sablonnière said the elements of proof presented to him did not show without a reasonable doubt that Beaulieu’s actions that day were dangerous, despite the fact that he sped backwards the wrong way on a one way street and drove over a cyclist who had, in fact done nothing wrong and posed no threat to the public or the officer. The judge concluded: “This was a sad and unfortunate accident” (quoted in Page 2018). But actively driving backwards over someone on a bike is not an “accident.”
The judge reached his conclusion despite the fact that the Crown prosecutor’s expert witness was a Sûreté du Québec crime reconstruction expert (another cop) who testified the police cruiser was going 44 kilometers per hour when it struck Blouin. The judge simply decided to side with the defense version of events which posed the police cruiser’s speed at 22 kilometers per hour. Why side with defense (posing a self-interested estimate) against one provided by a police expert (usually believed unquestioningly in cases against civilians)? The answer is that the state is always predisposed to protect the state in cases of police harm to civilians, under even the most egregious circumstances.
Incredibly, De la Sablonnière said Beaulieu made sure the coast was clear before backing up. This despite that obvious case that it was not clear—as evidenced by the fact that he ran Blouin over. How could he have ensured the coast was clear? Then the judge blamed faulty ABS brakes, a scenario only raised by a defense promoted and provided witness. Said de la Sablonnière: “He could not foresee there was a problem with the brakes” (quoted in Page 2018). But why was he speeding backward toward someone on a bicycle anyway? That is the question.
Throughout his ruling De la Sablonnière repeated that in order for a person to be found guilty of criminal negligence, his actions had to be significantly out of step with what is considered to be normal behavior. But he made sure to stress that normal or expected behavior had to be considered differently for police officers than for civilians (see the contradiction there—normal defined as different for some).
Stuart Edwards, a member of a citizens’ committee from the working class Saint-Roch neighborhood where the accident happened, pointed out that the reasoning behind the ruling is hard to accept (Page 2018). And clearly it is for anyone not ready to accept class-profiling of poor ad working class people or to treat police in a privileged manner within a legal system that otherwise brags of “equality before the law” (yes, we know that is a myth).
Said Edwards, from the committee formed in response to Blouin’s killing and who was present in court at each step in the trial: “That’s a judicial impunity for a policeman, because he’s a policeman. I don’t buy that. I’m personally disappointed. I don’t accept this — I think it’s wrong” (quoted in Page 2018).
As should we all. And Edwards noted that the committee is very much concerned with the effect the not guilty ruling will have in the community. It validates the exertion of lethal force by police against people in a poor and working class community under any circumstances and with impunity.
The city’s “police brotherhood” confirmed that concern saying the court decision recognizes that society must give special consideration to police officers. That sounds a lot like a threat.
Page, Julia. 2018. “Quebec City Police Officer Acquitted of All Charges in 2014 Death of Cyclist.” CBC News January 12. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/verdict-police-officer-guy-blouin-trial-1.4483566
There is no formal, systematic process for documenting and recording the deaths of civilians through encounters with police in Canada. There is no systematic reporting publicly of civilian deaths through police encounters. A baseline or minimum number of people who died through police encounters can be arrived at by review of oversight agency reports, coroners inquest reports, and close following of media articles. Here is some of the very limited information of what we know about 65 reported deaths. Much more needs to be known and should be made public.
- Amleset Haile. Female. 60. January 2. Toronto, Ontario. Toronto Police Service. Self-inflicted. (Black woman).
- Jimmy Cloutier. Male. 38. January 6. Montreal, Quebec. Montreal Police. Shot.
- Ralph Stevens. Male. 27. January 7. Stoney Nakoda First Nation, Alberta. RCMP. Shot. (Indigenous man).
- Nadia Racine. Female. 34. January 25. Gatineau, Quebec. Gatineau Police. In-custody.
- Male. 20. February 11. Goodfare, Alberta. RCMP. In-custody.
- Male. No Age Given. February 12. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Winnipeg Police Service. In-custody.
- Moses Amik Beaver. Male. 56. February 13. Thunder Bay, Ontario. Thunder Bay Police. In-custody. (Indigenous Man).
- Female. 20. March 6. Burlington, Ontario. Halton Regional Police Service.
- Male. 28. March 6. Montreal, Quebec. Montreal Police. Heart attack.
- Vitaly Savin. Male. 55. March 9. Edmonton, Alberta. Edmonton Police Service. Shot.
- Male. 20. March 18. Pond Inlet. Nunavut. RCMP. Shot.
- Male. March 24. 61. Chateauguay, Quebec. Sûreté du Québec.
- Male. 40. April 1. Kelowna, British Columbia. RCMP. In-custody.
- Male. 24. April 28. Puvirnituq, Quebec. Kativik Regional Police Force. In-custody.
- Male. 39. May 2. Hall Beach. Nunavut. RCMP. Shot.
- Male. 32. May 13. Fort McMurray, Alberta. RCMP. In-custody.
- Male. 41. May 15. Beauceville, Quebec. Sûreté du Québec. Shot.
- Male. 26. May 22. Cambridge, Ontario.
- Female. No Age Given. May 27. Oak Bay, British Columbia. Victoria Police.
- Male. 43. June 3. Smith Falls, Ontario. Ontario Provincial Police. Self-inflicted.
- Male. 31. June 3. Ottawa, Ontario. Ottawa Police Service. Shot.
- Male. No Age Given. June 18. Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. RCMP. Shot
- Austin Eaglechief. Male. 22. June 19. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Saskatoon Police. Shot.
- Pierre Coriolan. Male. 58. June 27. Montreal, Quebec. Montreal Police. Shot. (Black man).
- Male. No Age Given. July 3. Edmonton, Alberta. Edmonton Police Service. Vehicle chase.
- Male. No Age Given. July 5. Blaine Lake, Saskatchewan. RCMP. Self-inflicted.
- Male. No Age Given. July 9. Quebec City, Quebec. Quebec City Police. Shot.
- Dale Culvner. Male. 35. July 18. Prince George, British Columbia. RCMP. In-custody.
- Marlon “Roland” Jerry McKay. Male. 50. July 19. Thunder Bay, Ontario. Thunder Bay Police. In-custody. (Indigenous man).
- Shawn Davis. Male. 52. July 26. Chatham, Ontario. Chatham Police. “Sudden Death.”
- Male. 66. July 30. Pointe-Calumet, Quebec. Vehicle chase.
- Male. 25. August 10. Saint-Georges-de-Beauce, Quebec. Sûreté du Québec. Shot.
- Female. 55. August 7. Edmonton, Alberta. Edmonton Police Service. In-custody.
- Male. 23. August 20. La Sarre, Quebec. Sûreté du Québec. Shot.
- Male. No Age Given. August 13. Winnipeg, Manitoba. In-custody.
- Ozama Shaw. Male. 15. July 27. Mississauga, Ontario. Peel Region Police. Shot. (Black youth).
- Male. 48. September 4. Sudbury, Ontario. Sudbury Police. In-custody.
- Female. 26. September 4. Windsor, Ontario. Windsor Police Service. In-custody.
- Unnamed Male. 26. September 6. Whitefish Lake First Nation, Alberta. RCMP. Shot.
- Female. 46. September 9. Indian Head, Saskatchewan. RCMP. In-custody.
- Male. 29. September 9. Edmonton, Alberta. Edmonton Police Service. Shot.
- Adrian Lacquette. 23. September 13. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Winnipeg Police Service. Shot.
- Male. 34. September 15. Windsor, Ontario. Windsor Police Service. In-custody.
- Male. 33. September 23. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Winnipeg Police Service. Shot.
- Sheila Walsh. Female. 65. September 25. Arnprior, Ontario. Ontario Provincial Police. Vehicle chase.
- Female. No Age Given. October 2. Quesnel, British Columbia. RCMP. In-custody.
- Nathan Wehlre. Male. 15. October 6. Highway 6, Ontario. Waterloo Regional Police. Vehicle chase.
- Taryn Hewitt. Female. 16. October 6. Highway 6, Ontario. Waterloo Regional Police. Vehicle chase.
- Cody Severight. Male. 23. October 10. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Winnipeg Police Service. Hit and run, officer DUI.
- Male. 35. October 12. Qualicum Beach, British Columbia. RCMP. Shot.
- Cavin Poucette. Male. 26. October 19. Gleichen, Alberta. RCMP. Shot. (Indigenous man).
- Brydon Bryce Whitstone. Male. 22. October 22. North Battleford, Saskatchewan. (Indigenous man).
- Tom Ryan. Male. 70. October 27. Cobourg, Ontario. Cobourg Police Service. Shot.
- Male. 44. October 31. Brampton, Ontario. Peel Regional Police. During arrest.
- Male. 23. November 8. Montreal, Quebec. Montreal Police. In-custody.
- Bill Saunders. Male. 18. November 15. Lake Manitoba First Nation, Manitoba. Shot.
- Male. 57. November 26. Toronto, Ontario. Toronto Police Service. In-custody.
- David Tshitoya Kalubi. Male. 23. November 24. Montreal, Quebec. Montreal Police. In-custody. (Black youth).
- Male. 52. December 6. Douglas, Ontario. Ontario Provincial Police. Shot.
- Male. 25. December 13. Maple, Ontario. Toronto Police Service. Shot.
- Babak Saidi. Male. 43. December 23. Morrisburg, Ontario. Ontario Provincial Police. Shot.
- Male. December 24. Edmonton, Alberta. Edmonton Police Service. In-custody.
- Male. 22. December 28. Umiujaq, Quebec. Shot.
- Male. 36. December 28. Danford Lake, Quebec. Sûreté du Québec. Shot
- Male. No Age Given. December 30. Mississauga, Ontario. Peel Regional Police. Shot.