The Quebec City Police Department (SPVQ) announced Monday morning that it was opening an internal investigation after images showing two police officers equipped with a fire extinguisher drew criticism, as they escorted accused Frej Haj-Messaoud, the man charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault of his ex-wife.
Some observers criticized the images of the police officers carrying a fire extinguisher while accompanying the man, who allegedly set fire to his ex-wife on Friday night in Quebec City, as being a tasteless joke.
In a statement, the SPVQ said it has seen the images and that it takes the situation seriously.
"Although the scene may suggest that this is a bad joke on the part of the police, it would be premature to draw immediate conclusions without having taken the time to investigate to establish all facts and circumstances surrounding this event," the statement read.
The union representing the officers issued a statement saying that this fire extinguisher was a "preventive security measure" during the transfer of Haj-Messaoud, the day after his arrest in Drummondville.
"Not being able to ignore the possibility that people could have shown up to put the accused to the same fate as his ex-wife, the police officers in detention asked the police to bring a fire extinguisher when they were accompanying the accused outside," said a release from the Quebec City police union.
Its president, Marc Richard, was dismayed to find that those criticizing the images are trying to make people think that his police officers would be so unprofessional.
Haj-Messaoud is expected to return to court on Monday at the Quebec City courthouse.
The woman is now in critical condition.