Montreal's police chief has apologized for the actions of an officer caught on tape making at least two forceful arrests and an expletive-laced retelling of the incident to her supervisor.
Marc Parent said the officer, Stéfanie Trudeau, who was initially disarmed and placed on desk duty after police administrators saw videos broadcast on Radio-Canada yesterday, has been suspended from duty pending an internal investigation.
On the video, taken at a residence in Montreal's Plateau neighbourhood on Oct. 2, she is seen putting a man in a headlock and forcefully pulling him down a set of stairs.
Further conversations, which appear to have been unwittingly captured on a confiscated cellphone, revealed the officer calling the people involved "rats," and "assholes," among other expletives, on a call to her supervisor.
'I would like to apologize to the citizens on my behalf and on behalf of the employees of the SPVM because what we heard yesterday by the officer on TV and on social media was unacceptable.' —Marc Parent, Montreal police chief
Parent called the recordings "troubling and unacceptable."
"I would like to apologize to the citizens on my behalf and on behalf of the employees of the SPVM because what we heard yesterday by the officer on TV and on social media was unacceptable," Parent said.
"It's not what we want to hear from our police officers. It's not based on our values."
Parent said the decision to remove Trudeau from duty was made today, and agreed when asked if she posed a danger to the public.
"After what I saw yesterday and what I heard, absolutely," he said.
Trudeau's actions had already been thrust into the spotlight in the spring when she was caught on tape during the student protests pepper-spraying seemingly passive participants. The video of Badge 728, as she became known, generated hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube.
Parent said Trudeau was removed from protest duty after that incident, but was not pulled from patrol.
He couldn't explain why the service didn't respond to the "red flags" surrounding Trudeau's conduct earlier.
"This is one of the questions I asked yesterday – how come our system and process and all the red flags didn't show for that situation yesterday?" he said.
"I can tell you that we will change the way we do things to make sure those pop up fast and we can be more proactive with those kind of situations."
Parent said it has yet to be decided if the officer will continue to receive her salary during her suspension.
History of misconduct complaints
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.
Parent confirmed that the officer has been given protection after reports circulated that threats had been made against her.
"We're still looking around to make sure that she has good protection," he said.
"I won't tell you what we're doing, but for the safety of the person, whoever it is, we do it."