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Montreal, March 10, 2010--- A young West Island Black graphic artist whose complaint was dismissed last November by the Police Ethics Commissioner has obtained a positive ruling from the Police Ethics Committee in response to his application for review of the Commissioner's decision.

In September 2008, at the Fairview bus station in the West end of Montreal, Mr. Grenade, a young Black graphic artist, was waiting for his bus to go home when he noticed several police cars and officers in the area and witnessed a young Black man being detained in the back of a police car. Soon after, he ran into an acquaintance, whom he only knew by face and a young Black man like himself and the two slapped hands as many young men do in public. As Mr. Grenade was waiting in line for the bus, three male police officers stopped him. One officer accused Mr. Grenade that he had just taken something from his friend who he had just met. Another officer then frisked him and searched his belongings. When the search was over, the officers allowed him to leave.

As he got on the bus and sat down, the same 3 male police officers came towards him and physically ordered him to get off the bus. Mr. Grenade was forcibly taken inside a bus shelter with his right arm twisted behind back and then handcuffed. He was searched again. The officers also made him take off his shoes and pull down his pants to his knees in plain public view. He was then released without any excuses or explanations, without being informed of the reasons for his arrest and of his rights.

In October 2008, Mr. Grenade filed, with CRARR’s help, a complaint with the Police Ethics Commissioner against the 3 male police officers, for having abusively detained, arrested and searched him twice in a public place. He claimed that their actions were based on his race, sex, and age and were disrespectful and illegal.

In November 2009, the Commissioner dismissed the complaint. His investigation revealed that on that afternoon, there was a police crackdown on illegal drug trafficking at the bus station, and that Mr. Grenade was detained and searched because one officer allegedly saw the young Black male shake hands with another individual, later identified as Mr. Grenade, and hand him a small white object resembling a packet. Based on written police records and other police witnesses (the law allows officers being the target of a police ethics complaint the right not to cooperate with the Commissioner’s investigation), the Commissioner ruled that the police had valid motives to detain and search Mr. Grenada, that race was not a factor, and that the arresting officers did inform Mr. Grenade of the reasons for his arrest and his rights. As for the strip-search, all officers interviewed denied that it took place and the other young Black male, who was also arrested at the bus shelter, stated that he did not see Mr. Grenade being stripped.

After reviewing the Commissioner’s decision, Mr. Grenade requested CRARR to file an application for review to the Police Ethics Committee (an independent tribunal). The grounds for review include numerous problems in the Commissioner’s investigation, including:

  • Failure to investigate the third officer, who was mentioned by Mr. Grenade in his original complaint;
  • Failure to contact and interview Mr. Grenade’s witness, despite his mention of this person, a customer of Middle-Eastern background whom Mr. Grenade had known for quite some time, who was seated next to him on the bus and who witnessed the initial detention and search. The Commissioner did not make any reference to this key witness, nor did his staff interview this man;
  • Failure to mention the race of the other two young Black men who were arrested in the area due to the Commissioner’s tendency to apply a color-blind approach;
  • Failure to address the police’s use of handcuffs and other force on Mr. Grenade;
  • The Commissioner’s acceptance of a police woman’s testimony to the effect that she was on the bus during the second detention of Mr. Grenade, while neither he nor his customer recalled seeing any police woman on board;
  • The Commissioner’s misleading use of the word “friend” to describe the young Black male acquaintance of Mr. Grenade, who at no time described that individual as a “friend”;
  • Omission of Mr. Grenade’s ordeal while trying to obtain information and the complaint form to file a police ethics complaint at two different police stations after the incident.
  • In a decision rendered on March 3, 2010, the Police Ethics Committee ordered the Commissioner to carry out an additional investigation by identifying the third police officer and by obtaining the testimony of Mr. Grenade’s witness.

    This is the 14th time between 2006 and 2010 that CRARR had to help complainants to apply to the Police Ethics Committee for a review of the Commissioner’s decision. Out of the 14 Commissioner’s decisions that were appealed during this period, 12 were successful, resulting in partial or full overturning of the decisions and eventual citations of the officers before the Committee (in other words, the Commissioner is required by the Committee to bring the officers to a hearing on possible derogatory conduct). Frequent grounds for review include: incomplete investigation, bias in favour of the police version, color-blindless and dismissal of race factors, erroneous analysis of evidence and erroneous conclusion despite factual evidence.

    Comité de déontologie policière - Révision D. Grenade 03-10.pdf18.63 KB