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Military aerospace engineer says he was racially profiled by Laval police

Pierre Emanuel Joseph says he was harassed, cuffed and wrongfully charged with obstruction after being stopped while jogging on his street.
Author of the article:
René Bruemmer Published Jul 19, 2023  •  Last updated 2 hours ago  •  4 minute read

A Laval man who says he was the victim of racial profiling and a false criminal charge that cost him thousands in legal fees is filing human rights complaints against the Laval police force and the Canadian military police.
At a news conference Wednesday organized by the Red Coalition advocacy group, Pierre Emanuel Joseph, a captain in the Canadian military who works in aerospace engineering, detailed the incidents he said occurred in October 2021.
While jogging on his street in Laval, Joseph, who is Black, said he was pulled over by police officers who told him running on the road was illegal. The officers did not address a white woman who was also walking with her children on the street, Joseph said.
Joseph said he gave his name to the officers since he did not have identification papers on him, but they insisted on handcuffing him and taking him to his residence. They bullied him, he said, accusing him of other crimes and telling him he was lying about being in the military.
He was led in handcuffs to his home, in front of his neighbours and tenants, where police used his keys to enter, Joseph said. Once inside, Joseph said they searched his residence, found his identification that proved his military credentials, then took off his handcuffs. They issued a $60 ticket for being on the street.
Joseph contacted Laval police force director Pierre Bourget, who referred him to a manager who seemed sympathetic. He filed complaints with the Laval police ethics commission and the Quebec human rights commission.
Two months later, Joseph received notice he was being criminally charged for obstructing a police officer by refusing to give his identification. The Laval police force also contacted the Canadian military police force to give their version of events, Joseph said. When he attempted to explain his side, Joseph said the military officer was verbally abusive, saying he had more faith in someone who wears a badge.
Joseph spent $3,000 on legal fees trying to fight his case, but gave up because the process was too mentally and physically draining and time-consuming. Police officers drove by his house frequently or parked in front of his building, he said. He found himself afraid every time he saw a police officer, gave up jogging for a year and sought therapy for anxiety and stress.
“I was overwhelmed, my mental health was really low,” he said. “I even asked myself, why did I serve this country if I run on the street and I’m being pulled over by the police that are supposed to protect and serve me?”
After more than a year of fighting, he agreed to an out-of-court settlement in 2022, paying $250 to a charity in exchange for the charges being dropped. He dropped his police ethics complaint to try to avoid further action from the police department. He moved from his home because he feared further harassment. He said he plans to leave Quebec.
Alain Babineau, a former RCMP officer who is now director of racial profiling and public safety for the Red Coalition, said police violated multiple laws in the case.
“They could have just run his name,” he said. “You have someone who is co-operating, but that wasn’t enough for them — they put cuffs on him. At that point he is under arrest, he can’t leave. That triggers his right to counsel, which he never received. We are talking about illegal arrest, illegal detention.”
The case is another example that racial profiling is prevalent in Quebec, despite Laval’s promises to end racial profiling by police. Babineau said. He referenced a recent report compiled by the Montreal police force that found Black individuals are 3.5 times more likely to be intercepted by police than white people.
Based on Joseph’s version of events, Babineau said police must have concocted a story to convince prosecutors to level criminal charges against him.
A year after dropping the case, Joseph said he had regained his energy and was determined to bring out his story. With the aid of the Red Coalition, he plans to file complaints with the Quebec and Canadian human rights commissions and with the military police force. He will also file a request with Quebec’s minister of public safety to request to reopen his file with the police ethics commission.
“I want to denounce what happened so that it doesn’t happen again to someone who looks like me,” he said. “To help my community.”
A spokesperson for the Laval police force said the officer who could speak to Joseph’s charges was not available Wednesday, but would respond Thursday. A communications officer for the Canadian military said he would forward requests for comment to an agent, who did not respond by press time.



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