Members of a family on Montreal’s South Shore are accusing a Longueuil police officer of racial profiling and using excessive force after two teenagers were stopped for jaywalking.
On November 15, 19-year-old Nathan Picard and his 17-year-old stepbrother say they were stopped by police after crossing the street near a bus station.
Picard says he was punched, thrown to the ground and handcuffed, while his stepbrother was threatened with pepper spray and handcuffed without an explanation.
"They grabbed my brother and I and put us up against the car," said Picard. "I kept saying, 'What did I do?' And he hit me in the back of the neck."
Dominique Jacobs, Picard's stepmother, says she believes police thought the teenagers might be involved in other illegal activities, based only on their appearance.
"The way they were handled was completely unacceptable, and I think it’s because they are black, and they had a bag, a hoodie and a hat on," said Jacobs.
"[The police] thought, 'There’s more to it, we might get something here.'"
Jacobs said a police officer brought the boys to her home in Brossard then barged into the house and began searching the residence without an explanation.
Jacobs said the police also used abusive language when speaking with her.
"I, myself, have never been so humiliated and insulted... To come to our home and treat us that way when we were being respectful. We were just trying to understand what was going on," said Jacobs.
CRARR offers support to family
Jacobs said she is demanding an apology from the officer and filing multiple complaints with the Longueuil police for racial profiling, excessive force and illegal conduct.
Fo Niemi, the executive director of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), said the organization will support the family's civil rights and complaints about police ethics.
"I believe there's nothing — concretely in programs — to address this issue at all. It's as if diversity doesn't exist," said Niemi.
A spokesperson for the Longueuil police force said the force is looking into the incident.