Montreal

Montreal police won't be charged for killing man in apartment hallway

Quebec's Crown prosecutors' office has decided not to charge police in the 2017 death of Pierre Coriolan, saying officers acted in accordance with the law.

Pierre Coriolan, 58, was shot outside his apartment in Montreal's Gay Village in 2017

Johanne Coriolan, left, a relative of Pierre Coriolan, broke down in tears last year when announcing plans to sue the City of Montreal, alleging that police were abusive and used unnecessary force against Coriolan. He was shot and killed by police in 2017. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Montreal police will not face charges in the death of Pierre Coriolan, a 58-year-old black man shot and killed by an officer in 2017.

Quebec's Crown prosecutors' office said in a statement Friday that the officers acted in accordance with the law.

Coriolan was shot and killed in the hallway outside his apartment on June 27, 2017, in Montreal's Gay Village.

Officers were responding to complaints that Coriolan was smashing things and yelling in his apartment.

Coriolan was approaching police with a screwdriver in one hand and a knife in the other when he was shot by two officers, according to the Crown's statement.

Police had unsuccessfully tried to neutralize Coriolan using a Taser — which didn't properly discharge — and plastic bullets, before using their guns, the statement said.

Six officers were involved in the intervention.

A toxicological analysis showed that Coriolan had a high level of psychotropic substances in his blood, and he had a history of mental illness.

Pierre Coriolan was fatally shot by police in the hallway of his Montreal apartment building in June 2017. (Huffington Post)

In its statement, the Crown said officers are not expected to have "perfect" judgment when determining how much force to use, noting that "police officers are often placed in situations where they must quickly make difficult decisions."

Quebec's Ligue des droits et libertés, a civil rights group, said Coriolan's death points to the urgent need for better police training. 

The group said Montreal's officers aren't adequately trained to defuse a tense situation without using firearms or Tasers.

Family takes legal action

The investigation was conducted by Quebec's independent investigation unit, known by its French acronym, BEI, which handles cases when someone is hurt or killed during a police operation or when police discharge their weapon.

Coriolan's family is suing the City of Montreal, arguing the police intervention that led to the man's death was "brutal and excessive."

Virginie Dufresne-Lemire, a lawyer for the family, said Friday's news was devastating.

"They cried — they cried a lot," she said. 

"It makes them relive the moment. And for them, there was injustice in what happened with their brother."

In the days after Coriolan's death, Montrealers held a Black Lives Matter protest in his memory. (CBC)

The family released a four-minute eyewitness video, filmed on a cellphone, when they spoke out about the incident last year.

The video shows a chaotic scene in the hallway of the apartment building as officers use plastic bullets, a stun gun, then their guns to subdue Coriolan.

"We cannot believe that police officers treat people this way," the family said in a statement at the time.

"We therefore have a duty to denounce. This type of situation must be avoided at all costs so that it does not happen over, and over and over again."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Benjamin Shingler is based in Montreal. He previously worked at The Canadian Press, Al Jazeera America and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @benshingler.

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