Human rights commission dismisses Montreal police racial profiling case

A man at the centre of an alleged racial profiling incident is accusing Quebec’s Human Rights Commission of gross negligence for its handling of a probe into a violent 2018 arrest caught on video.

Montreal police stopped Brian Mann and his girlfriend, Tayana Jacques, on the street the morning of April 7, 2018 for being “too loud” on St. Laurent Blvd. near Roy St.

A portion of the incident was captured on video by an eyewitness, showing six police officers detaining Mann, while his girlfriend was handcuffed behind a police cruiser just steps from their home. Both were fined $444. 

Jacques, who has since passed away, said she felt targeted because she was Black. Mann, who is white, accused police of racial profiling by association.

In a ruling last month, the commission closed the case, stating the police's actions were justified and that there was “insufficient” evidence that Mann’s arrest was discriminatory.

Mann resisted arrest by the police after they tried to issue them tickets and the officers had to call for backup and use pepper spray in order to restrain him, according to the Feb. 16 decision. 

Police reports are contradictory about what occurred, with some saying the couple was intoxicated, while others say they were not.

Mann and Jacques said they were sober. They had been at a party the previous night.

Mann said he felt “revictimized” by the outcome during a virtual press conference Thursday alongside Fo Niemi, executive director of the Montreal-based Center for Research-Action on Race Relations, a non-profit civil rights group. 

“They didn't interview me, they didn't interview Tayana when she was still alive. Even after two years they didn't interview the witnesses that filmed the whole event,” he said. 

“I’m outraged.”

The fines were dropped and Mann’s criminal charge of obstructing a police officer was also dropped. 

Niemi told reporters that Mann’s complaint with the Police Ethics Commissioner is ongoing and the process has been slowed down by the pandemic. Meanwhile, Mann said Thursday he intends to file for judicial review of his case in Superior Court. 

"In this case, it's a clear miscarriage of justice because it took two years and nobody was interviewed," Niemi said. "It's very egregious."

In a statement, the commission said it "cannot comment publicly on the details of a complaint  file because of the duty of confidentiality to which we are subject by law. We can state however that the Commission's investigative work is done rigorously and impartially, in accordance with our guidelines."

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