Montreal

Quebec City police believe officer broke the law during violent altercations

In the last weeks, several videos showing violent altercations involving Quebec City police have been widely shared online. The police force now says it has reason to believe that an officer committed a criminal offence in two incidents.

5 Quebec City officers were suspended last Tuesday

A video of an officer swearing in French and threatening to pepper-spray a man in the face is one of several incidents under investigation. (Facebook)

After several videos showing violent altercations involving police officers, the Service de Police de la ville de Québec says it has "reasonable grounds" to believe that an officer committed a criminal infraction during two incidents.

The SPVQ says those files were first transferred to Quebec's Public Security Ministry, and then to the province's police watchdog, the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI). 

Monday's statement from Quebec City police did not specify which incidents are now the subject of a BEI investigation.

In a statement posted to its website, the BEI confirmed it had been asked to investigate two allegations involving an SPVQ officer and said the two allegations involve the same individual.

As of last Tuesday, five officers who were involved in violent altercations, including one with two young Black people outside a downtown nightclub and another involving a white man inside a restaurant, were suspended. 

After video of the two Black youth being arrested was widely shared online, other people in Quebec City came forward with allegations that they had been recently mistreated by local police.

In response to the mounting allegations, the SPVQ said it would expand its investigation. During an update last week, Quebec City police Chief Denis Turcotte said the two Black youth seen in one of the videos were "resisting arrest."

According to the SPVQ's statement, the internal investigation into all of the videos and incidents that were brought forward is still ongoing. It says it's actively co-operating with Quebec's police ethics commissioner, who was also asked investigate.

"There were four videos being circulated last week," said Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault today.

"I asked the police ethics commissioner to look at the first two videos, the events that took place the 26 and 27 of November," she said, referring to the arrests of the two young Black people and the man in the restaurant.

"I've [now] given the BEI the mandate to investigate ... allegations of potential criminal actions in the third and fourth videos," she said.

Guilbault noted that the ethics commissioner is looking at police conduct in the first two videos and the BEI will be analyzing whether the actions in the third and fourth video warrant criminal charges.

The third and fourth videos surfaced last week and show incidents that took place before the events that launched the SPVQ and police ethics commissioner's initial investigations.

The third, which happened Oct. 17, shows a man being shoved through a doorway and hitting his head on a wall, after police detained him for not following public health measures inside bar and restaurant District Saint-Joseph

In the fourth video, from Nov. 20, a police officer is heard swearing and threatening to pepper-spray someone on Grande Allée street before shoving them into a police car.

A spokesperson for the BEI told CBC its mandate will be to try to establish the series of events of these two incidents and then submit their findings to Quebec's prosecutor's office. 

The BEI says it's inviting any potential witnesses of either incident to get in touch by sending an email to bei_allegations@bei.gouv.qc.ca.

now