A YouTube video showing Montreal police taking down and arresting a food stall merchant during the annual street fair on the Main last week is closing in on 200,000 views, as Montrealers and other viewers debate whether the police acted too forcefully on what apparently began as a noise complaint.
Montreal police Cmdr. Ian Lafrenière told CBC's Daybreak this morning that the officers were doing their job.
"I [have] a hard time to believe this is blameless," he said. "The officers that got there, they were just asking him to turn the volume down.
"I'm sure that the listeners are going to understand now that this is way out of proportion. The person could just have turned down the volume. This is extremely sad."
Lafrenière said it took the five officers 30 minutes to control the man.
The video shows an officer hooking her arm around a man's neck as three other officers bring him to the ground — and the ensuing handcuffing of the man as he lies on his stomach on the ground.
Mike Finnerty spoke to witnesses Eric and Luc Faille and St-Laurent Boulevard Merchant's Association general manager Glenn Castanheira.
The man, who appeared calm until the moment of his arrest, hollers and swears at the police once he is on the ground.
"Take off the handcuffs," he pleads several times, in French. "You are hurting me."
On several occasions, people who know the detained man urge him to stay calm, at one point chanting his name in unison.
Several people can be seen capturing video of the incident as other officers order the gathering crowd to back off.
Eric Faille, who posted the video on Youtube on June 13, the day the incident took place, told CBC Daybreak host Mike Finnerty earlier this week he filmed the event because he was upset by the way police converged on the man.
"They had the intention to do something that was not necessary to solve peacefully a problem," Faille said.
He said he was not judging the techniques the police used to arrest the man, who he said was clearly "big and strong."
Faille said the man was not violent, but simply showed passive resistance to his arrest.
"It was really bad, what they did," said Faille's nine-year-old son Luc, who also witnessed the incident. "This is not really their job, to arrest [forcefully] someone who just put the music too loud."
A lawyer for the man, an employee of La Vieille Europe food store, said he will not comment on the incident before his court appearance. No charges have yet been laid against him, which is why CBC is not naming him.
'Old merchants that have always backed our police officers now tell me that they're not quite sure if they do anymore,' — St-Laurent Blvd. Merchants' Association's Glenn Castanheira
The general manager of the St-Laurent Boulevard Merchants' Association, Glenn Castanheira, told Daybreak on Monday he doesn't know why a neighbouring merchant called police about a noise complaint instead of seeing if the situation could be resolved amicably.
He said he received a flood of calls and emails about how the situation was handled.
"We will of course let police do their job — let the experts be the experts on this," Castanheira said. "But obviously there is an issue."
"For me to receive phone calls and emails and have people stop me in the street to tell me how worried they are, and to see old merchants that have always backed our police officers now tell me that they're not quite sure if they do anymore," he said, without finishing his thought.
"My heart goes out to all those great officers that are out there that are affected by their reputation."