Quebec police watchdog favoured officers' version of events after fatal 2017 intervention, judge rules

A family has won a legal case against a Quebec police watchdog concerning the death of 28-year-old Koray Kevin Celik, who died during a police intervention in 2017.

But for the Celik family it’s a bittersweet victory, after a judge ruled this week the role of the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI) was neither impartial nor independent.

“How can I trust in an organization where this decision shows that they’re extremely biased? How can anyone trust that report and that investigation?” said Celik’s father, Cesur, Tuesday in an interview.

A judge ruled that the police watchdog lacked transparency when it dealt with Celik's family after his death on March 6, 2017 on Île Bizard near Montreal. A key issue was a press release sent out by the BEI.

“It concluded that the press release was not impartial or independent, it conveyed the version of events of the involved police officers, disregarded the version of events of the Celik family,” said the family’s lawyer, François Mainguy.

Both of Celik’s parents can testify to what happened that night.

“We were eyewitnesses to the killing of our son. It happened just outside my office, in our corridor, in front of our eyes, my wife and I,” the father said.

Police were called to Celik’s home after he mixed alcohol with painkillers he was on following dental surgery. His parents say he was in crisis and after an altercation with police officers, he was pronounced dead in hospital.

After the BEI investigation and report, no charges were laid against the four officers involved.

According to the family’s lawyer, this decision could set a precedent.

“The judge also brought forth the fact that he found that the BEI had faulted in the way it had handled the Celik family and kept them informed as they should have into the investigation of Koray’s death,” Mainguy said.

The family is still waiting for a coroner's inquest into Celik’s death and has also filed a lawsuit against the Montreal police service and Urgences-santé.

In the meantime, the BEI said it needs time to review the ruling before deciding if it will launch an appeal.

The Quebec public safety ministry did not respond to a request for comment from CTV News on Tuesday.

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