Montreal

Montrealer appeals 'ridiculous decision' to dismiss complaint against police officers who broke her arm

A woman who had her arm broken by Montreal police five years ago is appealing a decision by the police ethics commission. It ruled that there was no evidence the officers tried to mislead the courts after her arrest.

Ethics commission ruled that officers did not deliberately try to mislead the courts

Majiza Philip (left) announced her plan to appeal the police ethics commission's decision with her mother, Suzanne Babineau, at her side. (Lauren McCallum/CBC)

A woman whose arm was broken by Montreal police five years ago says she is appealing after the Quebec's police ethics commission dismissed her complaint.

Majiza Philip was arrested outside the Olympia Theatre in November 2014 after tapping on the window of a police cruiser to get the attention of a friend inside.

She said one of the four officers forcibly restrained her, breaking her arm in the process.

She was charged with assaulting two police officers and obstruction of justice, but was acquitted in 2017 after the judge found the officers' testimonies to be inconsistent.

"[The statements] give the impression that there is an attempt to camouflage an intervention gone wrong," the judge wrote in the decision.

"The many contradictions and omissions noted in the police testimonies oblige the Court to question their will to faithfully recall what happened."

After the trial, Philip took that decision and made a complaint to the ethics commission, claiming the officers did not respect the judicial process and gave testimonies they knew to be false.

The commissioner dismissed the complaint last month, saying there was no evidence any of the four officers deliberately gave false testimony.

'Ridiculous decision'

Speaking at a news conference Thursday, Philip said she didn't understand why the commissioner concluded there was no lying, given the officers all gave different testimonies. 

"To me, that's just a very ridiculous decision," she said, with her mother by her side. 

"It's not fair for me to have to live every day knowing that these officers are working and not being held accountable for what they did to me."

She said she's spent five years fighting criminal charges, launching a lawsuit and filing complaints with the ethics commission, and still hasn't received justice.

Philip wants the commission to reverse its decision.

Holding justice system to account

Fo Niemi, the executive director for the Center for Research Action on Race Relations (CRARR), told CBC Montreal's Daybreak that the organization would help Philip file an appeal on Friday.

Niemi said it was important to hold not only the officers, but the justice system to account.

"[This case] certainly should help raise a question as to having access to justice, what it means," he said. 

Four years after her arm was broken during an arrest outside the Olympia Theatre in Montreal's east end, Philip's surgical scar was still visible. (Charles Contant/Radio-Canada)

Philip had previously filed a complaint about the circumstances of her arrest in 2015. It was dismissed by the commission before the criminal trial started.

At the time, commissioner Marc-André Dowd did not interview the officers involved because section 192 of the Police Act allows officers not to co-operate with the commission.

It is not known if the officers co-operated in the second complaint, which was specifically about their testimony.

now