Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality


Montreal, May 30, 2013 --- The Police Ethics Committee has ruled that two Montreal police officers who intercepted, violently dragged out, arrested and then fined a Black Lasalle teacher who was in his friend's car while waiting for take-out food in front of a Caribbean restaurant, must each be suspended for ten days without pay.

In a 12-page decision, the Committee, a specialized administrative tribunal, stated that Officers Christopher Brault and Mathieu Boucher-Bacon should each be suspended for five days without pay for having illegally intercepting, arresting and using unjustified force on Black high school teacher Farid Charles, and five more days without pay for issuing a ticket to Mr. Charles for $144 for “wandering without being able to justify his presence.”

In recognition of the seriousness of the officers' misconduct, the Committee actually ruled a suspension without pay for each of the four charges, but decided that the first three should be served concurrently (thus the five days for all three), while the fourth (for the fine), separately.

After midnight on April 9, 2010, Mr. Charles was waiting as a passenger in his friend's car while his friend went to order food in a Caribbean take-out restaurant in a shopping center in Lasalle, a South West district of Montreal. Officer Brault suddenly opened the driver's side door and asked for Mr. Charles' driver's license and car papers. When Mr. Charles told officer Brault that he had no right to open the door, the latter told him that he could do whatever he wanted. Officer Brault then insisted that Mr. Charles show his ID, without telling him why; he only told Mr. Charles to sit still and be quiet, due to break-ins in the area.

When Mr. Charles asked again why the officer wanted his ID, the latter moved quickly to the passenger side, and grabbed his arm. As Mr. Charles told him to let go of his arm, since the officer had no right to open the car door and grab his arm, the latter grabbed Mr. Charles from the back of his neck, dragged him out of the car, punched him in the face and dragged him to the ground. Mr. Charles was then handcuffed and searched by Officer Brault and his colleague Officer Boucher-Bacon. Mr. Charles was then release with the fine.

With CRARR's help, Mr. Charles launched a police ethics complaint against the two officers for racial profiling, excessive force, abuse of authority and bringing a charge without grounds. CRARR also filed a civil rights complaint against the officers and their employer, the City of Montreal, seeking $30,000 in damages.

The fine was withdrawn in 2012 by the City of Montreal, as the shopping center is private property and the police cannot apply a city by-law on it.

In its 42-page decision issued last February, the Committee concluded that both officers acted above the law from the moment they intercepted Mr. Charles to the time they issued the fine.

However, the Committee rejected the racial profiling claim, ruling that the officers intercepted Mr. Charles before recognizing his Blackness and that there was insufficient evidence that their treatment of Mr. Charles was linked to race.

“Some may be satisfied that a ten-day suspension without pay fits the seriousness of the illegal conduct, I don't, ” said Mr. Charles. “Given the severity of the violence and illegality of the officers' actions against me that night, the legal system should get tougher to be credible in the eyes of ordinary citizens.”

“I'm concerned that ten days of suspension bear little financial, administrative and professional consequences for the officers involved,” added Mr. Charles.

“Still, I call on every Black person in Montreal to stand up and file complaints against this kind of abusive police conduct. We have to make this a campaign issue for this Fall's municipal election,” he noted.

As in most cases in which the Police Ethics Committee issues sanctions, the decision will likely be appealed to the Court of Quebec, where it could take up to two years before a final decision will be issued.

The Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission is expected to issue its decision on Mr. Charles' civil rights complaint this Summer, which will also be likely ignored the City of Montreal, as in most cases. The Commission will then have to bring the case before the Human Rights Tribunal, which can take another year before a decision will be rendered.