Tag Archives: homelessness

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