Men taken down by Officer 728 have charges suspended
Police say they won't pursue criminal case until Oct. 2 incident reviewed
The three men who were arrested in a confrontation with Montreal's notorious Officer 728 earlier this month will not have criminal charges brought against them for the time being.
The men were arrested Oct. 2 at the apartment of one of them, on Papineau Avenue in Montreal's Plateau neighbourhood.
Two of them, Serge Lavoie and Simon Pagé, were to face charges of assaulting a peace officer, obstructing police and intimidation. The third man, Rudi Orchietti, had charges pending of assaulting a peace officer and obstructing police.
The Montreal Police Service said Tuesday has decided not to proceed on the file while it conducts a full review of the incident. The men could be charged later, however.
The men's court appearances and release conditions have all been cancelled for now, said their lawyer, Denis Poitras. He said he had been informed by the chief prosecutor's office at Montreal's municipal court that authorities there only had files for two of the three men so far, and that what they did have appeared insufficient for a criminal case.
Used chokehold on man
The Oct. 2 incident began when Const. Stéfanie Trudeau — known as "Officer 728" for her badge number — saw Ochietti sipping a beer. He was partly standing on a sidewalk and holding open the outside door to his apartment so his friends could carry in some music equipment.
Trudeau demanded Ochietti's driver's licence and insurance, he said. He questioned why, and was then grabbed by the collar and thrown to the ground by officers, partly seen on video shot by a friend.
Quebec Radio Noon asked listeners whether they still have confidence in Montreal's police force, following the release of a video depicting a heavy-handed arrest in a Plateau apartment by a female officer last week.
Lavoie tried to intervene. Cellphone video shows Trudeau chasing him up the stairs into the apartment, putting him in a chokehold and pulling him back down the stairs.
An audio recording of Trudeau talking to her supervisor afterward, captured unwittingly on a confiscated cellphone, captured her expletive-laced tirade against the men and musicians and artists generally. She calls them "rats" and "assholes," among other profanities, and claims they are the kind of people who would wear red squares in support of the Quebec student movement.
Trudeau was suspended from duty last week, and Montreal Police Chief Marc Parent has apologized to the public for her behaviour, calling it "unacceptable" and saying she "absolutely" poses a danger to the public.
Following that, a witness to the Oct. 2 incident came forward to say that she overheard Trudeau telling fellow officers to doctor their notes so that she wouldn't get in trouble. Police said they are looking into the allegation.
History of complaints
It's not the first time Trudeau's aggressive behaviour has made headlines. Trudeau drew public attention in the spring during Quebec's student protests, when she was caught on videotape pepper-spraying participants who were not physically threatening anyone. The video generated hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube.
Trudeau has had at least three other misconduct complaints against her since 1996.
In one that was ultimately dismissed, a complainant alleged that the officer called her a "fat black bitch" and put her in a choke hold during a confrontation inside a police station.
A separate set of allegations four years later claimed Trudeau used excessive force and profane language, but misconduct charges were ultimately dropped when the complainant, who had left the country, decided not to come back to Canada to testify.
In 2001, Trudeau was found guilty of two counts of misconduct for her behaviour toward nurses, staff and patients at Sainte-Justine Hospital while investigating a sexual assault. She was suspended for six days.
Critics of the police have questioned whether anything would ever have happened to Trudeau without the latest incident erupting in the media, and have expressed concern about a number of unduly aggressive officers on the force.
"The problem is not with that agent. The problem is much more big than that," said Pagé, one of the three men arrested.
With files from The Canadian Press