Charges suspended against people arrested by notorious 'Const. 728'
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, October 16, 2012 5:33PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 17, 2012 7:00PM EDT
MONTREAL -- Criminal charges have been suspended against three people arrested by a notorious Montreal police officer in an incident caught on video.
Three suspects arrested by Const. Stefanie Trudeau -- best known locally as "Officer 728," for her badge number -- were informed that the proof was insufficient to proceed with the case.
That's according to the men's lawyer, Denis Poitras, who told The Canadian Press that he was informed by the Crown prosecutor's office that scheduled court appearances had been cancelled as had the men's bail conditions.
"Let's just say it wasn't their best case," Poitras said in an interview.
That doesn't guarantee that the charges against Rudi Occhietti, Serge Lavoie and Simon Page have been dropped for good. They could still ultimately be charged with Criminal Code violations ranging from assaulting a police officer, obstructing an officer and intimidation.
The men's scheduled court appearances, starting Wednesday, have been suspended however.
A spokesman for Montreal's police department, Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere, confirmed that "given the circumstances" the force had decided to "take the necessary time to re-evaulate the entire case" before deciding whether or not to proceed with charges.
The incident involved a local officer who became famous during the spring for pepper-spraying a number of student demonstrators who appeared to pose no threat to her.
More recently that same officer, Trudeau, saw a man, Occhietti, sipping a beer by the doorway of an apartment building and she demanded to see his identification papers.
He asked why and refused to show them, and he was promptly arrested. When one of his friends complained from a nearby staircase Trudeau went to get him, put him in a headlock, dragged him down the stairs and arrested him, too.
The Oct. 2 incident concluded with 20 police cars called to the apartment block.
But there was a surprise twist in the incident: Cellphones recorded it. And, even though Trudeau confiscated several phones, one still recorded her describing the events while delivering a profane rant about "guitar-plucking" artists who live in Montreal's Plateau neighbourhood.
The video was sent to the media.
Trudeau was immediately suspended, and stories about past run-ins with suspects and old ethics complaints have begun surfacing.
But critics of the police have questioned whether anything would ever have happened without the incident erupting in the media, and have expressed suspicion that there may be a number of unduly aggressive officers on the force.
Poitras said he was informed by the assistant to the chief prosecutor at Montreal's municipal court, Gaetan Plouffe, that authorities only had files for two of the three men and that what they did have appeared insufficient for a criminal case.
From left, Serge Lavoie, Rudi Ochietti and Simon Page pose for a photo outside a police operational centre in Montreal, Friday, October 12, 2012. (Graham Hughes / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Stefanie Trudeau was suspended last week.