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Montreal, April 20, 2010 --- Two Montreal Police officers, François Plamondon and Stéphane Boucher, have respectively been imposed 30 and 42 days of suspension without pay by the Quebec Police Ethics Committee for the illegal arrest and detention, assault and other violations of an African father of two in the east end of Montreal.

Back in March 2007, Mr. Jean-Paul Ounabakidi, a businessman and beauty salon owner, was driving his 17-year old son to his gym in his SUV when he was stopped by the two officers and fined for not having his car insurance certificate and for not signing his registration. After the stop, the two officers followed him to his beauty salon where they would arrest, pepper spray, assault and arrest him in front of his wife and children. He would be charged four months later with six criminal offenses, which are still pending in 2010.

With CRARR’s help, he filed complaints with the Quebec Police Ethics Commissioner and the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission. The Commissioner at first dismissed his case in 2008; CRARR applied for a review of the decision before the Police Ethics Committee, which eventually overturned the decision due to evident flaws in the Commissioner’s investigation and conclusions. The Committee ordered the case to be brought to it for a hearing.

In January 2010, the Committee found that the two officers committed several key police ethics violations, such as illegal arrest and detention; failing to inform Mr. Ounabikidi of the grounds for his arrest; assault; and laying of penal and criminal charges without grounds. The racial dimension was dismissed by the Commissioner and not addressed by the Committee.

As a result of this important decision, CRARR has formally asked the provincial Chief Crown prosecutor, Louis Dionne, in February to drop all criminal charges against Mr. Ounabikidi, who has had to spend thousands of dollars to defend himself. Mr. Ounabikidi is represented by CRARR’s counsel René Saint-Léger.

In a decision rendered on April 13, 2010 (see attached), the Committee ruled that Officer Boucher, who has been on the force since 1998, be suspended for a total of 42 days without pay, and Officer Plamondon, on the force since 2006, for a total of 30 days without pay.

In early April, Mr. Dionne’s office undertook to look into the matter. The civil rights complaint, in which CRARR describes the case as a typical “Driving While Black” racial profiling case, is still under investigation by the human rights commission.

Read also: (decision on sanctions) (decision on police ethics violations)