Skip to main content

Black man handcuffed while trying enter his own car sues Montreal police for $125K

A Montreal resident who was captured in a viral video last fall showing him in handcuffs while trying to enter his own vehicle is suing the police for $125,000.

The online video showed part of the police intervention when the two arresting officers couldn't find the keys to the handcuffs so that they could release the innocent man, Brice Dossa.

Dossa, who is Black, filed a civil lawsuit in Superior Court on Tuesday, alleging the two arresting officers abused their authority, had no information to suggest Dossa's Honda CRV SUV was stolen or that he was not the owner, and that they "engaged in racial profiling."

"Based on Mr. Dossa's race and skin colour, they assumed that he was a thief, without doing any verification to confirm their intuition," reads part of the allegations in the document.

None of the allegations in the lawsuit have been tested in court.

Montreal police is named as a defendant along with police officers Simon Thibault-Pelletier and Simon Bolduc. In response to questions from CTV News, the police service said Thursday it is not commenting on the case because it is still before the court.

Dossa, 44, was leaving a McDonald's at the Marché Central in Ahuntsic-Cartierville with his order and returning to his vehicle when he was approached and then detained by two plainclothes officers on Nov. 3, 2022. The lawsuit alleged the officers did not identify themselves as Montreal police officers.

A still image of a video showing a plainclothes Montreal police officer with a man in handcuffs during an investigation into a stolen vehicle. (Source: Instagram)

A video recording of the arrest shows Dossa with his hands cuffed behind him, demanding police explain why he was stopped.

"Is it because I’m Black?" he asked more than once, repeating that the car belongs to him.

"Not at all," responded the plainclothes officer.

"Then what is it?" Dossa continued. "A vehicle I bought, you say it looks like a stolen vehicle … that is so humiliating."

Dossa's lawyer, Fernando Belton, told CTV News that his client was diagnosed with "severe PTSD" since the incident and that the damages being sought are meant to partially cover the loss of sleep, loss of work, and stress.

Lawyer Fernando Belton said there were no marks of theft on Brice Dossa's car when police intervened on Nov. 3, 2022. (CTV News)

Belton said when Dossa visited his home country of Benin since the incident, he was recognized by people who watched the viral video.

According to Belton, the treatment of Dossa "another case" of racial profiling.

"If Mr. Dossa was a white, 50-year-old man getting into his car with no prior notice, no identification — nothing — before you actually get roughed [up] by the police, gets cuffed by the police and no explanation whatsoever in the first instance of what actually happened, I don't think that's the way that intervention would have [played] out," Belton said.

"And I think what the community is asking — they're not asking to be treated differently, or more nicely. They're saying that they want to be treated the same way as everyone."

Alain Vaillancourt, a member of the City of Montreal's executive committee who is responsible for public safety, called the footage in the online video "disturbing." Quebec's public safety minister, François Bonnardel, also reacted to it, saying at the time that it "raises questions."

Montreal police addressed the arrest in a tweet on Nov. 5, saying that the vehicle "showed typical and obvious attempted theft marks on one of the locks (damage)" and that a person walked up to it to take possession of it before officers could finish their checks.

It's a claim that Belton denies.

He said he hopes the lawsuit will send a message that racial profiling is unacceptable.

"The message that has to be sent is that racial profiling needs to stop," he said, "and when it happens, well people need to be held accountable." Top Stories


LIVE UPDATES Polls closed, results start to roll in for election day in Manitoba

Polls are closed and results are coming in what will be a historic election for the province. The Progressive Conservatives' Heather Stefanson is looking to become the first woman elected premier, while the NDP's Wab Kinew is looking to become the province's first First Nation premier. Follow along for live updates on candidates, voting information and results.

Stay Connected