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Montreal, January 25, 2011 --- The Police Ethics Committee has ordered six days of suspension without pay for each of the two police officers for committing an illegal arrest, intimidation and unjustified use of force on a young Black man inside his home.

On June 5, 2008, at approximately 5:00 pm, Mr. Pierre-Ricardo Daguste, a Laval resident, drove home from the Saint-François Shopping Center, with his girlfriend. Two police officers, Steve Parent and Jason O'Leary, decided to intercept him for ID check under s. 638 of the Highway Safety Code. As they tailed him, they lost sight of his car, only to find it later parked in front of his garage.

Seeing the police officers coming from his main entrance door window, Mr. Daguste went to the living room window where he gave them the finger. He then saw the police officers at the garage entrance, checking his car. He came out from the house, walked down the garage stairs and asked the officers what they were doing since they had no business on private property. They asked him for his driver's license. As Mr. Daguste tried to call his father on his cell phone, the officers grabbed his arms and threw him on the ground, belly down. They then handcuffed him, pulled him up and took him to the police car.

Mr. Daguste was driven to another area of his neighbourhood where he was told, while still in the police car, to choose between a fine and three days of prison. When he did not answer, the officers drove him to another spot, and asked him the same question. By then, in tears of frustration, he chose the $438 fine.

Considering himself to be a victim of racial profiling and abusive police treatments, Mr. Daguste mandated CRARR to file a complaint with the Police Ethics Commissioner and another with the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission.

In a decision on the substance, rendered on August 2, 2010, the Police Ethics Committee ruled that the Commissioner's evidence “did not allow it to conclude in a preponderant manner that the officers acted towards Mr. Daguste due to racial factors.” However, it still concluded that both officers acted illegally by arresting, using unjustified force and intimidating him in the police vehicle.

In a decision on sanctions, delivered on January 20, 2011, the Committee observed that both officers' conduct to make Mr. Daguste a most singular proposition (to choose between a fine and three days in prison, made twice while inside the police vehicle) is “totally unacceptable and the sanction to be imposed must be of a dissuasive and exemplary nature.” (translation)

The Committee also noted that in additional to the illegal arrest, the use of unjustified force on Mr. Daguste to arrest him “contravenes provisions of (human rights) charters that guarantee the right to life, security, integrity and liberty”, and constitutes “an objectively grave misconduct beyond any doubt.”

On that basis, the Committee imposed a six-day suspension without pay on each officer; one suspension of one working day would be served concurrently.

“I am still happy with this decision, although I wish that the Committee would have reached a positive conclusion on racial profiling and imposed stiffer sanctions, since it is not easy to be young and Black in Laval or in Montreal”, said Mr. Daguste.

“We still believe that it is a Driving While Black case, because it is clear that everything the two officers did was against the book the moment they decided to tail Mr. Daguste and entered his private property,” said CRARR's Executive Director Fo Niemi.

The civil rights complaint is still under investigation. CRARR and Mr. Daguste are claiming $30,000 in damages from the City of Laval and the two officers, as well as the adoption of a policy to combat racial profiling and mandatory training for officers to prevent this practice.

Regarding the ticket, which Mr. Daguste contested, the Laval Municipal Court will render its decision at the end of the month.

Read the Decision (in French only):

CDP Daguste 01-11.pdf51.33 KB