'I don't care about your prayers': Montreal cop suspended 15 days for insulting Muslim man

A file photo of a Montreal police officer. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)

A Montreal police officer who insulted a Muslim man he had pulled over for a traffic violation two years ago has been suspended for 15 days.

Quebec's Police Ethics Committee had earlier ruled that Constable Eric Locas, a 25-year veteran of the Service de police de la Ville de Montreal, had insulted Abdelkrim Rahal based on the latter's religion.

In a ruling issued last week and made public Tuesday, the committee ruled that Locas, who has faced several ethics complaints during his policing career, would receive a 15-day suspension without pay.

Around 6:50 a.m. on February 6, 2017, Locas pulled over Rahal on Papineau St. The officer said he pulled over Rahal - who he greeted derisively with the Hebrew greeting "shalom" - because he did not have his headlights on and it was still dark.

Rahal said he did not have his headlights on because the sun had already risen. Locas disagreed, but Rahal insisted, saying he knew the sun had already risen because that is when he, a devout Muslim, had to do one of his daily prayers.

"I don't care about your prayers," Locas responded. Those were the comments the committee found to be injurious to Rahal and his religion.

Locas said he argued with Rahal because he believed the man was just trying to talk his way out of a ticket. He conceded that his words were poorly chosen, but denied trying to insult Rahal or his religion.

A lawyer for Locas, who has transferred from a patroller to working at the SPVM's western detention centre, had been seeking a suspension of only five days, while the lawyer for the ethics committee had been seeking a suspension of 25 days, pointing out that this was Locas's sixth appearance before the police ethics committee.

As a result of past complaints against him, Locas had already been reprimanded once and suspended on four different occasions, for a total of 43 days.