Montreal

Police ethics commission will look into alleged road rage case after all

After initially refusing, Quebec's police ethics commission has now agreed to investigate Jeffery Pokora's complaint that an off-duty officer rammed his vehicle into Pokora's during an alleged road rage incident in 2015.

Commission initially refused to investigate because officer was off-duty at time of incident

Quebec's police ethics commission has now decided to investigate Jeffery Pokora's complaint against a Montreal police officer Roberto Tomarelli after initially refusing because the Tomarelli was off-duty at the time. (CBC)

After initially refusing, Quebec's police ethics commission has now agreed to investigate the case of an off-duty officer who rammed his vehicle into another car in 2015 in an alleged road rage incident.

Jeffery Pokora, the man whose vehicle was rammed, told CBC he was "ecstatic" that the ethics commission would now look into his case after all.

He received a letter in February 2016 saying the commission would not look into the incident, during which his car was damaged. He says he is still suffering from physical and psychological after effects.

"It's very frustrating. Thank god I had the energy to be persistent and keep up with this," Pokora said.

Surveillance video captures officer ramming car

In January 2015, Pokora was driving in LaSalle when he followed a man he believed was driving dangerously. He didn't know the man, Roberto Tomarelli, was a police officer.

After a verbal altercation, Pokora blocked Tomarelli's vehicle in a driveway while he called 911. Surveillance video of the incident shows Tomarelli getting into his own vehicle and ramming Pokora's, seriously damaging the car.

Tomarelli then chased Pokora in his vehicle. When police arrived, it was Pokora who was arrested and charged with uttering threats and harassment.

Pokora fought the charges and was acquitted after a trial last month.

Commission changes mind

Pokora asked the police ethics commission to investigate, but the commission refused, saying because Tomarelli was off-duty at the time of the incident it didn't have jurisdiction.

Pokora also filed a criminal complaint about Tomarelli's conduct but prosecutors decided not to lay charges after reviewing all the evidence.

After being acquitted last month, Pokora forwarded a written copy of the judge's decision to the ethics commission.

He received a letter last week from Marc-André Dowd, an attorney for the commission.

"I have considered the new facts and elements submitted and, in light of all the circumstances of the case, I have decided to hold an investigation," Dowd wrote.

'Horrific' experience

Pokora said he continued to fight the case because he doesn't want something like this to happen to anyone else.

"I wouldn't wish it on anybody. It was such a horrific experience. That's why it was important for me to maintain this because I don't want anybody else to experience what I went through," Pokora said. 

Pokora has also filed a civil lawsuit against Tomarelli seeking $120,000 in damages.

The lawsuit claims Pokora's vehicle was damaged beyond repair in the incident, and that he has been in frequent pain and experiences serious psychological distress since it happened.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steve Rukavina

Journalist

Steve Rukavina has been with CBC News in Montreal since 2002. In 2019, he won a RTDNA award for continuing coverage of sexual misconduct allegations at Concordia University. He's also a co-creator of the podcast, Montreapolis. Before working in Montreal he worked as a reporter for CBC in Regina and Saskatoon. You can reach him at stephen.j.rukavina@cbc.ca.

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