Montreal police dispute latest incident of alleged racial profiling, but won't lay charges

Montreal police are disputing the version of events recounted by a black man who claimed he was a victim of racial profiling in Montreal West earlier this month.

Police say Kenrick McRae's version of events, those of officer 'do not match'

Kenrick McRae in his Mercedes with a camera on the dashboard - he uses it to record police who stop him every month or two, he says. (Matt D'Amours/CBC)

Montreal police are disputing the version of events recounted by a black man who claimed he was a victim of racial profiling in Montreal West earlier this month.

Kenrick McRae alleges he was driving his Mercedes on Westminster Avenue when he was pulled over and handcuffed, then detained in the back of a Montreal police squad car while a video recording he'd taken to document the incident was erased.

"From what we have gathered at this point, the versions of the citizen and police reports do not concur," Montreal police told CBC in an email Monday. "We cannot comment any further as several details included in the police officer's report do not match the incident as detailed by the plaintiff."

The email said police will not be pressing charges against McRae.

"For this reason, no further investigation will be made related to the incident," the statement said. 

The Center on Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), a Montreal-based civil rights organization, is taking on McRae's case. He plans to file a formal complaint. 

On Sunday, Fo Niemi, Crarr's executive director, called the incident "one of the most egregious cases of racial profiling we've seen."

Kenrick McRae, seen here alongside Fo Niemi of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations, says he was "willfully and wrongly" arrested by police in Montreal West earlier this month. (Matt D'Amours/CBC)

When asked Monday to respond to the statement from police, McRae, a 45-year-old father of two who works at Trudeau airport and has no criminal record, said he doesn't want others to have to experience what he did.

He said he thinks police are just trying to protect themselves. 

"I'm disgusted with it," McRae told CBC News.

"They are trying to cover up what they did. They even deleted my videos. That was clear evidence to show what went on." 

'Driving while black'

McRae's case is not the first time a black person has reported being targeted in the province. 

A 2011 report by the Quebec Human Rights Commission found that ethnic minorities in Quebec are subject to "police surveillance that is targeted and disproportionate."

One highly publicized case involved Joel Debellefeuille of Saint-Constant who was pulled over in his BMW in 2009 and asked to show police his ID confirming he was the car's owner. 

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.

Debellefeuille alleged that he was being racially profiled by police.

Joel Debellefeuille holds up a ticket he received in Longueuil for driving with a young passenger who was not wearing a seatbelt. He claims he was alone in the car. (CBC News)

"I'd been pulled over three times prior to that in about a span of 10 days, so I was a little upset," Debellefeuille said in 2012. 

"I jumped out of the car and basically asked them why they were pulling me over."

In 2015, Debellefeuille again became the victim of what he called another "driving while black" incident.

Police approached him as he parked his car and gave him a ticket, claiming he had not been wearing a seatbelt.

He said when he looked more closely at the $126 ticket, he saw it was for driving with a passenger under 16 who wasn't wearing a seatbelt. Debellefeuille insists he had, in fact, been wearing his belt and was alone in the car.