The mother of 18-year-old Fredy Villanueva broke down during the coroner's inquest into her son’s shooting by Montreal police on Wednesday afternoon.
Lilian Villanueva left the courtroom in tears after comments made by a lawyer for the City of Montreal. Once in the hallway, Villanueva fell to the ground — kicking her feet and screaming in Spanish for people to leave her son alone.
The incident happened as the officer who fatally shot the teenager in August 2008 was being questioned by Alexandre Popovic of the Coalition against Repression and Police Abuse.
Popovic asked Const. Jean-Loup Lapointe whether it was true that he had killed Fredy Villanueva.
When Lapointe answered "yes," Popovic persisted — asking Lapointe whether he had intended to kill Villanueva.
Finally, when Popovic asked the officer whether he would agree that the teenager was a victim, the lawyer representing the City of Montreal intervened.
Villanueva was a victim of his brother’s behaviour, of his own behaviour and of the behaviour of his friends, said Pierre-Yves Boisvert.
At that point, Lilian Villanueva and her eldest son Dany left the courtroom.
Those close to the Villanueva family tried to console the mother in vain. The special constables who ensure security in the courthouse prevented people from leaving the courtroom and asked those outside to keep away.
Due to the tension created by the scene, Lapointe — who was in the middle of his testimony — and the other officer involved in the shooting, Const. Stéphanie Pilotte, were escorted out of the courtroom.
Boisvert’s comment was unacceptable, said Will Prosper of community group Montreal-Nord Républik.
"I thought that was a public inquest, but he’s already manifesting his judgment," said Prosper. "I’m … shocked with the fact that he emitted [that] comment in front of the family of Fredy Villanueva and nobody stood up and made an objection about it."
Officer thought he would be disarmed
During his testimony Wednesday morning, Lapointe admitted he wasn’t completely certain that Fredy Villanueva was going to disarm him during a scuffle in a Montreal North park.
In the minute between the time that Lapointe confronted a group of teenagers and the time he shot Villanueva, he said he didn’t have the time to be completely certain.
During earlier testimony, Lapointe said he shot the teenager because he feared his life was in danger and that he was about to be disarmed.
Villanueva was shot on Aug. 9, 2008, after two Montreal police officers intervened when they saw the teen and a group of friends — including known street gang members — playing dice in a park in Montreal North. Among them was Villanueva’s older brother Dany, who was wanted on an outstanding warrant.
The incident sparked riots in the working class community and prompted allegations of racial profiling.
The elder Villanueva is scheduled to testify next at the inquest.
The Honduran national is also facing a deportation hearing.
Immigration officials will re-evaluate the 23-year-old’s permanent resident status in light of his criminal record. Supporters of the Villanueva family have questioned the timing of the deportation hearing in light of the ongoing inquest.