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Montreal, November 14, 2011 --- This Thursday, the Quebec Superior Court will hear the appeal filed by Joel Debellefeuille, a Black man who was stopped by a Longueuil police officer while driving his BMW on the grounds that a Black man could not, in the officer's view, have a Québécois name like Debellefeuille.

The hearing will be held on November 17, 2011, at 9:00 am, at the Longueuil's court house, located at 1111 Jacques-Cartier Est, Room 1.27, Longueuil.

Mr. Joel Debellefeuille, a business manager and resident of the South Shore, was intercepted in July 2009 by the Longueuil police while driving his family in his black BMW. After stopping his car, Mr. Debellefeuille came out of his vehicle and was asked by the officer, “Hey, guy, is this your car?”. Considering the question to be unprofessional, Mr. Debellefeuille told the officer that his name was not “Guy”, that his wife and children were in the car, and that the officer could have checked for his name based on the license plate. The situation degenerated and Mr. Debellefeuille eventually received two fines under the Highway Safety Code for refusing to provide documents to a peace officer when required and failure to have his car insurance papers in order.

In June 2010, when he contested the fine related to the refusal to produce ID in Longueuil Municipal Court, he noted for the first time the police report presented in court, in which the intercepting officer's discriminatory motive was written in black and white : “the vehicle belongs to a certain Debellefeuille Joel, it was a Black man who did not correspond at first sight to the owner. Debellefeuille sounds like a Québécois family name and not of another origin.” During the hearing, Mr. Debellefeuille raised on several occasions the fact that he was a victim of racial profiling; in addition, the intercepting officer stated that Mr. Debellefeuille's race was the “primary reason” for his interception and that he would intercept Asian persons with a Québécois family name.

On September 29, 2010, Mr. Justice Marc Gravel delivered his decision. While setting aside Mr. Debellefeuille's racial profiling defense (including the violation of his constitutional right to equality), the judge found him guilty. Furthermore, the Court considers that the allegations of discriminatory violations of the Quebec Code of Ethics for Police Officers (which Mr. Debellefeuille raised) cannot be taken into account since the Municipal Court has no jurisdiction over this Code.

Finally, the Court cited a Laval Municipal Court decision, in which the judge of that court referred to the Montreal Police Service definition of racial profiling and the 2003 Ontario Court of Appeal decision, R.v. Brown, considered to be the leading and ultimate judicial authority on racial profiling. However, Justice Gravel did not elaborate and dismissed the racial profiling argument, on the grounds that the “Municipal Court cannot interfere in police ethics matters.”

Mr. Debellefeuille filed an appeal, challenging the court’s failure to apply both the Canadian and Quebec Charters of Rights and Freedoms and its incorrect application of Canadian jurisprudential standards on racial discrimination and profiling. His appeal also seeks to declare that since the police officer’s act did constitute racial profiling, the court should have dismissed the charge had it correctly applied the Charters. CRARR’s lawyer, Aymar Missakila, represents Mr. Debellefeuille.

Also at issue is a trial judge’s duty to take into account racial profiling as a defense in a case involving the offense of refusing to provide car documents to a peace officer.

The Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission intervened in the case, due to the deep ramifications of the outcome for all lower courts in Quebec when dealing with “Driving While Black“ cases.

In response to Mr. Debellefeuille's complaint filed in 2010, the Police Ethics Commissioner will cite the officer before the Police Ethics Committee for violation of the Quebec Code of Ethics for Police Officers.