Majiza Philip ready to celebrate the holidays after acquittal in police-assault case
'It was a hard and really long road,' says the 29-year-old after spending 3 years in and out of courtrooms
It's been a long three years of courtrooms, uncertainty and recovering from a broken arm during a police arrest for a 29-year-old Montreal woman.
But today Majiza Philip says she's looking forward to spending the holidays with her family after a municipal court judge found her not guilty earlier this week of assaulting police officers and obstruction of justice.
"It's been three years, and I knew that I was a victim and I'm really, really happy that I'm not going to be charged criminally," said Philip. "I just feel really strong as well, because it was a hard and really long road."
The acquittal led to tears and hugs in the halls of the municipal court building among family and friends who accompanied Philip through her legal proceedings.
During her trial, Philip testified she was trying to get the attention of her friend, who had been arrested by police after a concert and was sitting in the back of a police car.
She told the court she tapped on the window of the car and that's when officers moved to arrest her, breaking her arm in the process.
A long scar remains visible on the back of her arm, which had six pins and a steel plate inserted. Philip says other scars remain from the arrest and the injury she sustained.
"The last three years have been up and down from trying to get back into work, from being really depressed, from suffering from post-traumatic stress," said Philip. "It was up and down. It was a rocky road, from every time I ended up in court, it brought everything back."
In finding Philip not guilty, municipal court judge Katia Mouscardy ruled that prosecutor Juliette Gauthier did not meet the burden of proof on any of the charges against Philip.
But she had much more harsh words for the four police officers who testified in the trial, questioning the veracity of their versions of events.
"The Court finds that the testimony of the officers contained several omissions and oversights which leave the Court perplexed," wrote Mouscardy.
"The testimony heard in prosecution gives the impression that one tried to cover up (camouflage) an intervention that took a bad turn. The multiple contradictions and oversights in the police testimony force the Court to question their willingness to truthfully relate what happened with Philip".
"I think this is one of the few times in this province that we have a decision where the judge severely blames the police officers," said defence lawyer Arij Riahi. "And the judge goes so far as to use the word 'camoufler,' questioning if there was a cover-up, if all these charges were completely created once they realized that Majiza was seriously hurt."
Mouscardy went on to write the arrest of Philip was illegal because the officers had no reason to believe she had committed, was committing or about to commit a crime.
Philip had filed a complaint with Montreal's police ethics committee after the arrest. But the officers involved were absolved.
Riahi says she is going to study the judgment before deciding whether to try to reopen the file before the committee.