Montreal police, officer ordered to pay $17K for racial discrimination

Quebec's Human Rights Commission has ruled that a police officer must pay $17,000 to a Montreal youth who was racially profiled by him.

Arrest ruled a case of racial profiling, officer found to have violated victim's civil rights

Victor Whyte is visibly shaken when describing what happened when he was 15. (Elias Abboud/CBC)

Quebec's Human Rights Commission has ruled that Montreal police and one of its officers must pay a total of $17,000 to a Montreal youth who was racially profiled.

Victor Whyte was 15 when he says police left him bloodied after accusing him of getting on a city bus without paying.

The commission has ordered the police force and the officer to pay $15,000 in moral damages. The officer, Mathieu Hypolite, was ordered to personally pay $2,000 in punitive damages for deliberately violating Whyte's civil rights. 

However, it's unclear whether Whyte will ever see that money.

'Robbed me of my youth'

According to Whyte, now 24, he was eating at McDonald's with some friends after a basketball game the night of the incident.

They were loud, so the manager called police. When the officers arrived, they told the teens to leave by boarding a city bus. Whyte was the last to board.

He said that's when an officer grabbed him and yanked him off the bus, ripping his shirt.

Police told him he hadn't paid for the bus and pinned him to the ground. One of his earrings was ripped out of his ear and he started to bleed.

"I'm still shaken up about it. It robbed me of my youth," Whyte said.

Whyte missed a lot of high school classes to go to court and is now in adult education to catch up.

Is the settlement enough?

The Montreal-based Center for Research-Action on Race Relations, or CRARR, has been helping Whyte and his mother through years of legal battles.

The $17,000 settlement, according to CRARR executive director Fo Niemi, isn't enough compensation considering how much time Whyte's mother spent defending him.

Fo Niemi says the fact that the officer was black adds another dimension to the case. (Elias Abboud/CBC)
"They're not middle class, they're working class people," Niemi said.

The main officer who arrested Victor was also black. Niemi says that adds another dimension to the story.

"Even if you're black and a police officer, you have no licence to act in an abusive, arbitrary and discriminatory manner towards [a] black youth," Niemi said.

Whyte said the experience has left him looking at police as if they are a gang.

"But they have the rights to do what they want and get away with it," he said.

with files from Elias Abboud