Violent police arrest video released in Quebec court
WARNING: Video contains graphic images
Video footage showing the forceful arrest of a man suspected of robbery in Trois-Rivières, Que., has been released.
The clip, captured by a surveillance video, shows 19-year-old Alexis Vadeboncoeur lying face down in the snow, with his arms outstretched as four Trois-Rivières municipal police officers approach.
It shows him being kicked and punched by officers as he lies on the ground, surrendering.
According to Vadeboncoeur's lawyer, René Duval, his client posed no threat to police before the altercation.
Duval said Vadeboncoeur yelled "I'm 19, I have no criminal record. This is a fake gun and I'm surrendering," before police got to him.
The footage was released on Thursday following Vadeboncoeur's bail hearing at the Trois-Rivières courthouse .
The incident began when police were called to a suspected robbery at a pharmacy on Des Récollets Boulevard on Feb. 2.
They chased a suspect, who was hooded and armed, to a parking lot near the Trois-Rivières Cégep, where the surveillance footage was captured.
Vadeboncoeur can be seen tossing his firearm away from him as he surrenders and lies down on his stomach in the parking lot.
In their police report, officers said the teen had broken into a business. They reported they had to use force because their lives were in danger.
Quebec provincial police Sgt. Gregory Gomez del Prado said the force's internal affairs division is investigating.
Vadeboncoeur sustained various injuries
Duval, said his client sustained several injuries during the altercation.
"What the video doesn't show is all the bruises that he suffered at the hands of police, especially in his testicles. Because he was repeatedly kicked in his testicles," he said.
Duval said he has practised law in every province in Canada and does not know of any other case where video footage shows police repeatedly hitting an individual without provocation.
The police chief of Trois-Rivieres, Francis Gobeil, also saw the tape. He said it left him angry, and disappointed.
"I saw the video and I think that the video is very clear. When you look, what you see you think that it's not [OK]," he said.
Video disturbs Trois-Rivières mayor
Trois-Rivières Mayor Yves Lévesque said Friday he was not happy with the way police carried out the arrest.
He said he first heard of the violent arrest through the media.
"It disturbs me as mayor," he said of the footage. "We're not happy with what we see."
Lévesque said his administration will closely follow the investigation. He said he is ready to take action based on its findings.
"Worse also is that the report they produced after the [arrest] was saying that they had to use force to intervene the suspect, he was hard to arrest, and when we see the video it was completely contrary," he said.
The four police officers involved in the arrest have been suspended with pay for an undetermined amount of time.
Provincial Public Security Minister Stéphane Bergeron said he agreed with the disciplinary action taken against the officers.
"I think the good decisions have been made so far," he said.
Denis Côté, the president of the Quebec Federation of Municipal Police Forces, said people should not jump to conclusions because the officers have the right to the presumption of innocence.
Duval said the incident points to some serious flaws with police in the province.
"I hope it's not systemic, but I think that there's a number of issues to be addressed. Obviously their training is lacking in some way," he said.
He also said the video serves as sufficient evidence.
"The video is there. You need not to be an expert in investigations to see that something very wrong has been done," he said.
He suggests police candidates should undergo a mandatory personality assessment test before being accepted for jobs.
The alleged police brutality case has been turned over to the Quebec provincial police.Vadeboncoeur will remain behind bars until his bail hearing resumes in March.