Montreal

Xavier Amodeo denies doing anything wrong when punched by Montreal police

A 20-year-old man is speaking out for the first time after being repeatedly punched in the face by a Montreal police officer at an anti-capitalist protest last Friday.

'I didn't want to resist an arrest, I didn't want to get arrested,' protester says

Xavier Amodeo, a 20-year-old Montrealer, was punched by a police officer during a protest last Friday. (Radio-Canada)

A 20-year-old man is speaking out for the first time after being repeatedly punched in the face by a Montreal police officer at an anti-capitalist protest last Friday.

I didn't want to get arrested. I wasn't doing anything wrong.- Xavier Amodeo, 20-year-old protester

Xavier Amodeo, who considers himself a pacifist, told CBC's French-language service Radio-Canada he hadn't even joined up with other demonstrators when it happened.

"I sat on the ground, in a position where I was very vulnerable," he said.

"I didn't want to resist an arrest. I didn't want to get arrested. I wasn't doing anything wrong."

The original video, recorded by a passerby in his car and obtained by CBC/Radio-Canada on Monday, shows police holding the man's arms behind his back and then punching him repeatedly in the face.

Formal investigation could be launched by Montreal police if there's evidence of wrongdoing 2:17

Two more videos that surfaced today show the moments leading up to the altercation. 

In one, Amodeo is sitting on the ground, making a peace sign with his arms in the air. He is surrounded by police officers on bicycles.

When officers walk away, Amodeo walks a bit farther, then sits down again with his arms still in the air. That's when he is wrestled to the ground by three officers.

Amodeo says he doesn't remember if he exchanged words with police, adding that his "adrenaline" was pumping.

He has never been in trouble with police before.

He said he's not part of an organized group, but was there to protest against the Quebec government's cost-cutting measures.

Police looking into incident

Cmdr. Ian Lafrenière said police are reviewing the footage to see if the officers involve should be disciplined, but added it's too soon to lay blame based on videos alone.

"First of all, as soon as we got the video yesterday, we asked for the other side of the story, because as you can see in the video, we can see a bit of it, but we don't see what happened before that," Lafrenière told CBC's Daybreak.

Police were trying to get protesters to disperse at the time, Lafrenière said.

"We don't know at this moment, was it appropriate or not."

In some instances, it's acceptable for an officer to punch someone in the face when making an arrest, he said.

"That's part of the use of force, but in this case in particular, was it [acceptable] to do so? That's why we need more information."

In a separate interview with Radio-Canada, Lafrenière said, "We can't simply judge by a video."

27 charged with criminal offences

​Lafrenière said it was a difficult night for police, with three separate marches at the same time. 

He said 27 people were charged with criminal offences at the protests — rather than just handed a ticket — suggesting the police had difficulty getting people to co-operate after the demonstration was declared illegal.

Police also used tear gas and pepper spray during the demonstrations.

For the moment, Lafrenière said, the incident isn't under formal investigation. If there's evidence of wrongdoing, it could be looked at as a criminal matter or handed over to the police ethics committee.

Lafrenière said Montreal police officers want to be equipped with cameras of their own to ensure the full story gets told. The force has already participated in a camera pilot project.

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