Quebec City police officer Simon Beaulieu killed 48-year-old Guy Blouin when he struck the cyclist with his police vehicle on Sept. 3, 2014. During Beaulieu’s ongoing trial for criminal negligence and dangerous driving causing death, Yves Brière, a crime scene reconstruction expert with the Sûreté du Québec (the provincial force), earlier testified that he estimated Beaulieu to be traveling in reverse at 44 km/h when the cruiser hit and drove over Blouin on his bicycle.
On October18, 2017, officer Beaulieu took the stand. His testimony was interesting in revealing several generally held police assumptions about people that contribute to the killing of civilians by police.
First, cops assume everyone is a criminal (except themselves). Beaulieu testified that he was on a routine patrol in the Saint-Roch neighborhood when he observed Guy Blouin cycling toward him. But Blouin was riding his bike on a one-way street in the wrong direction. So Beaulieu assumed something was up and maneuvered his police car to block the cyclist.
Second, cops assume that everyone respects their authority unquestioningly, so anyone who does not listen to an officer’s orders must be up to something or hiding something. So, when Blouin rode his bike around the car and appeared to ignore the police order to stop, Beaulieu immediately suspected the cyclist had been involved in criminal activity. Not that he did not hear the order or had no reason to be stooped by police. In Beaulieu’s own words: ”In my experience, someone who doesn’t stop has something to hide” (quoted in Page 2017). So Beaulieu backed the police car into and over Blouin.
Third, cops assume that victims will be grateful for help offered initially from the very officers who hurt them. Beaulieu heard Blouin scream in agony from being driven over and excited his police car and saw the stricken man on the ground with leg and shoulder injuries. According to Beaulieu, the victim was agitated and refusing help from the officers. Did they call for medical help right away?
Fourth, and incredibly, cops assume that telling someone they are under arrest will calm them down!?! In Beaulieu’s words: “He was not collaborating, so I tried telling him he was under arrest to get him to calm down,” (quoted in Page 2017).
Fifth, cops assume that traveling in an ambulance with someone they have injured only moments before will make the victim less agitated. In this case both officers went with Blouin to hospital because , in their view, he was visibly agitated. And why wouldn’t he be?
In this case, Blouin remained agitated as the officers accompanied him . He lost consciousness en route and died only 20 minutes after being driven over by officer Beaulieu.
It turns out that the bike Blouin was riding at the time, which Beaulieu assumed was stolen because the rider was going the wrong way on a one way street and did not stop when an officer ordered him to, had been purchased by Guy Blouin at a local pawn shop. Police assumptions kill. An do so with frequency in the Canadian state context.
Page, Julia. 2017. “Quebec City Police Officer Accused of Running Over Cyclist Says Speed Wasn’t Over 25 km/h.” CBC News October 18. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/simon-beaulieu-testimony-guy-blouin-death-1.4360387