Black man roughed up by Montreal police for missing bike reflector plans to file complaint

A young Black man says he was unjustly roughed up and handcuffed by Montreal police (SPVM) before being fined for not having a reflector light on his bicycle's front wheel.

Prodil Houanhou says he was on his way to a friend's house on Saturday to play music when he saw police questioning another Black man at the corner of de Maisonneuve Boulevard and Montcalm Street in Montreal's east end.

He says he stopped to observe the situation from a distance when a police cruiser suddenly pulled up behind him.

Houanhou alleges an officer shouted at him from the car, "What are you waiting for? To start filming?"

"A young Black man getting arrested, I just intrinsically stopped to watch," he told CTV News. "I was not in their perimeter. I was far from them."

Houanhou claims the officer then walked over to ask him for a piece of identification.

"I felt really scared and also, I felt like I was in school and I got bullied. The only difference is I couldn't defend myself. I couldn't move, I couldn't do anything," he said.

When he asked why the officer wanted his ID, he says he was violently pushed against a wall and handcuffed.

"Next thing I know, I'm on the wall. They took my phone, they handcuffed me and while I was handcuffed... I was shaking, obviously," he told CTV News. "One officer, on my right, he was telling me to stop shaking. They don't like people shaking."

The 27-year-old says the officers searched his belongings and removed his ID from his wallet.

They then told him the front wheel of his bike was missing a reflector.

"They told me that I was going to get a ticket mailed to me," he said. "They told me to leave and go do something better than watch other people."

Houanhou says once he was released, he noticed other people had stopped to watch and film him.

"I don't think I was treated well," he said, adding several witnesses came to offer him coffee or food to settle his nerves. "Maybe it was my fault, I felt concerned [about the other Black man]."

Houanhou says he now plans to file a complaint with the Police Ethics Commission, as well as Quebec's Human Rights Commission.

Fo Niemi, executive director of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), insists this incident is a clear case of racial profiling.

"It looks like a pretext stop to basically give this man a hard time and get him into the police database and justify why they would detain and rough him up," he said.

Montreal police told CTV News it is aware of the incident and is investigating the circumstances surrounding it.

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