Montreal woman files lawsuit against city, police officers for violent 2014 arrest
'Some people end up dead. I was lucky to just have a broken arm,' says Majiza Philip
After an encounter with Montreal police in 2014 left her with a broken arm, Majiza Philip spent three years in and out of court fighting to prove she was not guilty of assaulting police officers and obstructing justice.
She was cleared of all the charges against her last December — but the 29-year-old Montreal woman's fight isn't over.
Earlier today, Philip announced she has filed a $700,000 lawsuit against the City of Montreal and two SPVM officers for using "unnecessary force" resulting in "tremendous pain and suffering."
In collaboration with the Centre for Research Action on Race Relations (CRARR), Philip has also filed a complaint with the police ethics commission against the Montreal officers involved in the incident.
That complaint accuses the officers of "misconduct, abuse of power, excessive force, negligence," and attempting to obstruct a previous investigation by the commission into the matter, CRARR said in a statement.
"Day to day, it is hard because I am extremely afraid of police," said Philip as she announced the lawsuit Tuesday.
Arrested outside Olympia Theatre in 2014
Philip cried as she recounted her November 2014 arrest outside the Olympia Theatre in Montreal's east end.
She was arrested after she tapped on the window of a police cruiser to get the attention of a friend being held there. She said one of the four officers grabbed her and forcibly restrained her, breaking her arm.
That arrest left her in a cast for five weeks, a metal plate and six screws holding her humerus bone together.
Four years later, her surgical scar is still visible. She also said she suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, and lost her job as a cook because of her injury.
Philip filed a complaint with the police ethics commission after the arrest, but the case was dismissed in May 2016.
After a Montreal municipal court judge cleared her of the charges against her in December 2017, she said she had "assumed [the police] would be held accountable."
'It is happening more and more'
Today, she said she feels she has no other choice but to sue.
"I'm here today because it is happening more and more in Montreal," said Philip. "It is happening to visible minorities."
She said she hopes the city finds new ways to mitigate police profiling and excessive force.
"I wanted the police officers to be held accountable because they are people just like I am and they assaulted me," she said.
"Some people end up dead. I was lucky to just have a broken arm."
The city's executive committee spokesperson, Youssef Amane, told CBC News he wouldn't comment on the lawsuit.
"The current cabinet has nothing to do with this. It's administrative. So we won't comment," Amane said.
Montreal police also declined to comment.
With files from Arian Zarrinkoub