Black youth were 'resisting arrest,' says Quebec City police chief

Quebec City Police Chief Denis Turcotte says he's now looking into four violent police interventions, after footage of another incident surfaced on Thursday. Turcotte says the two Black youth who were violently detained on Nov. 27 were resisting arrest.

1 suspended officer involved in 3 violent interventions caught on video

Quebec City Police Chief Denis Turcotte says he's actively investigating videos that show some of his officers punching, dragging and shoving people they were detaining. But he says the two Black youth involved in the first altercation were "resisting arrest". (Radio-Canada)

Quebec City Police Chief Denis Turcotte says the two young Black people who were recently filmed being violently detained by police were "resisting arrest" and investigations into how police handled the situation are still ongoing.

"There were a total of six arrests that night," said Turcotte, "five for causing disorder, one for interfering with police work. Of those six arrests, only two people resisted. That's what we see in the videos."

Early on Saturday, Nov. 27, Service de police de la ville de Québec (SPVQ) officers were filmed striking and kicking snow in the face of 18-year-old Pacifique Niyokwizara while he was being restrained on the ground outside the Dagobert night club.

At around the same time, in a related incident, police were recorded dragging a young Black woman through the snow and at one point an officer can be seen grabbing her by her hair.

Turcotte says police officers regularly have to use force to get people under control when they're resisting arrest. He says the goal of the internal investigation is to determine the circumstances and events that led up to the use of force that was caught on camera.

He says five officers were suspended with pay because they were closely involved in what happened and he wanted to preserve the integrity of the investigation.

"The police ethics commissioner was called upon to investigate these events, so we're co-ordinating with him," said Turcotte. The commissioner's investigation will take precedence, the chief said.

More videos emerge

Since those two videos were widely shared online, two other people have come forward alleging they were mistreated by Quebec City police.

Jean-Philippe St-Laurent snapped this selfie while in hospital recovering from an altercation with Quebec City police. (Submitted by Jean-Philippe St-Laurent)

On Tuesday, Jean-Philippe St-Laurent shared cell phone footage of SPVQ officers tackling him to the ground inside a restaurant and landing several blows to his ribs.

St-Laurent says his encounter with police happened just a few hours before the interventions with the two young Black people and left him in hospital overnight.

WATCH | Quebec City police arrest a restaurant patron. Warning: this video contains graphic content. 

Police officers pin down restaurant patron

8 months ago
Duration 1:39
Quebec City police officers violently restrain a restaurant patron.

The SPVQ has launched separate investigations and five police officers were suspended with pay. 

Turcotte says at least one of those officers was involved in all three interventions that happened overnight from Nov. 26 to Nov. 27 and he said he's studying whether he needs to review the mandate of the SPVQ's GRIPP squad — a task force created in 2004 to intervene in bars and night clubs.

Turcotte was also asked about another incident earlier this fall. A video is circulating where a member of the GRIPP squad swears at a man as he threatens to pepper spray him. It too is under investigation. 

Another incident under investigation is an SPVQ officer threatening to pepper-spray a man in the face. (Facebook)


On Thursday, another violent police intervention involving the GRIPP squad came to light. Video from Oct. 17 at the District Saint-Joseph restaurant and bar shows three officers leading a man toward an exit into a hallway, where one of the officers violently shoves him into a wall.

Radio-Canada has spoken to one of the bar's managers who says officers came inside when they saw people dancing, something forbidden by public health measures at the time, and were detaining the man for not respecting COVID-19 rules.

WATCH | Quebec City police officers arrest a man for violating public health rules. Warning: this video contains graphic content. 

Quebec City police arrest man for dancing

8 months ago
Duration 0:49
Security video shows Quebec City police officers roughly arresting a man who had been dancing at a restaurant-bar while it was forbidden under public health COVID regulations.

Turcotte says the SPVQ is aware of the video but hasn't yet had the chance to review it, something he says the police force will be doing in the coming days.

Turcotte said the fallout from the videos and the suspension of five police officers has created a "shockwave" for the public and the police force but he says he's committed to shedding light on what happened and improving the way the SPVQ operates going forward.

"The events of the last few days have been difficult for everyone," he said. "We need to learn and grow through all of this."

With files from Radio-Canada