WATCH: Montreal police ordered to pay young black Lachine man $17,000 for abusive arrest
The Quebec Human Rights Commission has ordered Montreal police to pay a young Lachine man $17,000 for an abusive arrest and racial profiling in an incident dating back eight years when he was 15.
In February 2009, Victor Whyte was in LaSalle getting on an STM bus with friends by the back door, a common practice when there were long lineups to board. They had just been told by staff at a McDonald's to leave because they were too noisy. Whyte said police on site told the youths anyone who didn't get on the bus would be arrested.
Whyte said without warning, police violently grabbed him off the bus, threw him to the ground, handcuffed him, dragged him to a police cruiser, and threw him once more to the ground where Whyte said one officer put a knee on his chest to keep him down.
Whyte was given a $118 ticket for boarding a bus without paying and charged with obstruction of justice. He was acquitted of that charge after a court case that lasted more than two years. Whyte can't talk about the incident without getting emotional and wiping tears from his eyes.
"It impacted me hard, and now I'm still (shaken) by it. It's very sad. It robbed me of my youth." said Whyte at a news conference.
Whyte said the incident prompted bouts of depression and mistrust of police.
"I look at them as another gang that has more rights to do anything to anybody and get away with it," said Whyte.
The Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) helped Whyte with the case and is also preparing another in which Whyte, now 24, alleges he was a victim of an alleged "driving while black" incident with police just a few weeks ago. Whyte disputes the claim he didn't have the proper registration papers.
"A case like this can practically ruin you, create long-term financial as well psychological consequences. Think of people, not even the middle class, these are working class people, it's very painful," said Fo Niemi, executive director of CRARR.
Whyte said he's happy the ruling went his way but his fight isn't over. CRARR said Montreal police have not responded to the commission's order so the case will head to the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal.