Montreal police officers broke ethics code, committee finds

Two Montreal police officers acted illegally when they arrested a black LaSalle high school teacher, the Montreal Police Ethics Committee has ruled.

Former teacher says he was roughed up by police, racially profiled

Farid Charles and Fo Niemi, director of the Center for Research Action on Race Relations, say two Montreal officers racially profiled Charles when they arrested him for loitering. (CBC)

The Montreal Police Ethics Committee has ruled that two Montreal police officers acted illegally when they arrested a black LaSalle high school teacher for loitering, but it does not believe the officers were guilty of racial profiling.

Farid Charles, 29, said he was racially profiled by officers who arrested him in 2010 while he was waiting for take-out food in his friend's car outside a Lasalle restaurant.

Charles said two officers punched him, handcuffed him and fined him for loitering.

After an investigation, the Montreal police ethics committee found Sgt. Christopher Brault and Sgt. Mathieu Boucher-Bacon guilty of four breaches of the Quebec Code of Ethics for Police Officers.

But the committee also ruled there was no racial profiling involved.

Officers' breaches of ethics code:

  • Illegal interception
  • Illegal arrest
  • Illegal use of force
  • Abuse of authority

Charles said he is disappointed with the findings.

"If they don't acknowledge that there's racial profiling, they're saying the police tactics are right," he said.

Fo Niemi, co-founder and executive director of the Center for Research Action on Race Relations, said he questions whether the judges really understand racial profiling.

"It walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck — it should have been a duck. But the committee said, 'No, it's a turkey," Niemi said.

Charles said he is waiting to find out whether the officers will face sanctions before he decides whether he will appeal.

That decision is expected to come in the next three or fouth months.

The Montreal police told CBC News it would not comment on the report.

Former teacher felt like 'a punching bag'

It was close to midnight on April 8, 2010 when Charles said he and a friend went to the Caribbean restaurant to pick up food.

Charles said he was sitting in his friend's car, waiting for him, when a police cruiser pulled up and asked for his license and registration. After he explained the situation to the officers, Charles said one of them opened the passenger door and yanked him outside.

"As I stood up, his fellow officer threw a punch," he said. "I moved my head toward the left and, the next thing you know, I'm being shot to the floor like I was a punching bag."

Charles said he was detained for 20 minutes before he was fined $144 for loitering. He believes he was targeted because he was black.

"I feel as if, even though I did the right thing, I felt as if I was a criminal," said Charles. "And I don't think I should be feeling that feeling, especially as I haven't [committed any crime]."

At the time, police said Charles was unhelpful when police talked to him.

"If the person co-operates, they'll be free within five minutes and nothing's going to happen," said Insp. Paul Chablo. "But if you decide to contest and challenge the police officer, you'll end up getting arrested.

The police ethics committee's report