Racial profiling raised at Villanueva inquest

The lawyer representing the Montreal Police force at the coroner's inquest into the fatal shooting of 18-year old Fredy Villanueva dismissed suggestions the incident was the result of racial profiling, Friday.
Eighteen-year old Fredy Villanueva was shot by Montreal police on Aug. 9, 2008. ((CBC))
The lawyer representing the Montreal police force at the inquest into the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Fredy Villanueva dismissed suggestions Friday that the incident was the result of racial profiling.

The question was raised by lawyer Alain Arsenault, who is representing Jeffrey Sagor Météllus, one of the two other men injured in the shooting in August 2008.

Arsenault was questioning Const. Stéphanie Pilotte, who said she and her partner approached some young men in a Montreal North park as they played with dice, contrary to a municipal bylaw.

Arsenault revealed a set of instructions issued to police in Montreal North by Station 39 Cmdr. Roger Bélair. Arsenault said the directive was to put pressure on members of street gangs and their associates to ensure a peaceful and secure environment.

Arsenault questioned whether Pilotte and her partner, Const. Jean-Loup Lapointe, were really trying to break up a game of dice. Or, he asked, were they looking for street gang members — or even racial profiling?

Pierre-Yves Boisvert, the lawyer representing Montreal police, dismissed the idea and asked Arsenault to stick to the facts.

"Racial profiling is not, despite what some might think, written down," Boisvert said. "I don’t like you for such and such a reason — that is, attitudes, the behaviour, the approach."

Pilotte did not fear for life

Lapointe shot Villanueva on Aug. 9, 2009, as the officers tried to arrest his older brother, Dany, who had declined to identify himself. Two other men, Sagor Météllus and Denis Méas, were injured.
Lawyer Alain Arseneault is representing Jeffrey Sagor Metellus, who was injured in the shooting. ((CBC))

The two officers described in their written reports how the elder Villanueva resisted arrest. Lapointe described how he felt that his life and his partner's were in danger when Fredy Villanueva approached with his hands extended towards Lapointe’s neck and belt, where his gun was kept.

Pilotte has testified she did not feel threatened.

The shooting provoked rioting in the mutli-ethnic working class community of Montreal North, which Pilottte admitted is known to police as "the Bronx."

The inquest was ordered by the Quebec government after the outcry from Villanueva’s family and the Montreal North community.

Pilotte is expected to continue her testimony when the inquest resumes in February.