A black man is challenging a Quebec police force, alleging he was a victim of racial profiling after two officers pulled him over because he didn't look "Québécois."
Joel Debellefeuille of Saint-Constant has filed a complaint with the provincial human rights commission and the police ethics board. He is seeking $30,000 in damages over the incident, which took place in the municipality of Longueuil on Montreal's South Shore in July 2009.
He says Longueuil police officers appeared to be on a fishing expedition when they stopped him, as he was out driving with his fiancée and stepdaughter in search of ice cream.
Debellefeuille was driving what he calls his "late-model" BMW at the time. He refused to show identification, which police asked to see, saying they wanted to establish he was the car's owner.
He only relinquished his papers after the officers called their supervisor. Police issued him two tickets: one for driving with expired car insurance and the other for failing to provide ID.
In a copy of the police report he later obtained, the officer noted that Debellefeuille did own the car but that his name did not seem to fit that of a black person.
That is racial profiling, Debellefeuille alleges.
"To me, there is no real reason for them to pull me over, other than, well, you know, the obvious," he said. "We all have our views, and everyone can stereotype different origins here and there, and I think that that was one of these cases here."
The police force won't comment except to confirm they are also investigating the incident.