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Montreal, August 14, 2012 ---A Montreal man has filed a civil rights complaint against two Montreal Police officers claiming that he was physically abused, called a “F-g Indian” and sent on a “starlight tour” for volunteering to be a witness for a cyclist being ticketed by the police.

Mr. Julian Menezes, a University course lecturer, was acting as a concerned citizen when he stopped to speak with a young cyclist in the Plateau Mont-Royal district at around 2:30 a.m. in May 2012. As the cyclist appeared visibly shaken, Mr. Menezes and his two female friends asked if he needed help. The cyclist stated that he believed he had been stopped by the police because he was wearing a red square, the symbol of Quebec student demonstrations. When the officers returned to hand the ticket to the cyclist, they made a pejorative comment concerning the cyclist's red square. One of Mr. Menezes’ friends asked what the relationship was between the red square and the ticket, causing the police to become more aggressive.

Mr. Menezes, who can be described as being of small frame and having light Brown skin, was then suddenly thrown to the ground by the officers, handcuffed, and shoved in the back of a police car. Due to the officer's unjustified use of force, his ankle was badly twisted.

While in police custody, Mr. Menezes sustained a number of injuries to his face, as the officers drove at high speeds and stopped abruptly a number of times, deliberately causing his face to slam against the glass dividing the front and back of the police vehicle. He also endured verbal abuse and taunts, was threatened with imprisonment and homosexual rape, and suffered racial slurs, being called a “F-g Indian” by one of the officers. In the end, he received a ticket of $146 ”for continuing to do a forbidden act”, an act the ticket fails to specify.

He was left stranded by the officers at 3:30 a.m. in the Cremazie district, a neighbourhood far from where he lived, with a twisted ankle and no means of getting home. Luckily, a passer-by helped him find a Bixi bike to go home.

“The violence, racism, intimidation and abuse of power that I suffered was shocking, particularly as it was at the hands of the Montreal police who are supposed to protect us, and prevent such things from happening,” said Mr. Menezes. “I did not imagine that this kind of systematic violence happened here. While handcuffed in the police car, I felt scared for my safety. The worst thing was that I had no one to turn to.”

Mr. Menezes has mandated CRARR to file a civil rights complaint against the two officers and the Montreal Police Service, in which he asks the the human rights commission to investigate the department’s practice of “starlight tours.” He also claims $30,000 in damages against the City and its police employees.

A police ethics complaint against the two officers is in the works, one of whom was later identified on-line as having been previously involved in several police ethics complaints.

“This is our first, but unfortunately, not the last of civil rights complaints related to “starlight tours” and other “cruel and unusual punishment” of citizens detained in police vehicles,” says Brady Donohue, a University of Windsor law intern who has been working on the file.

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