Black Quebecer wins $10,000 Human Rights Commission ruling against Laval police officers
MONTREAL -- Quebec's Human Rights Commission is recommending two police officers and the City of Laval pay $10,000 to a man who alleged he was discriminated against due to the colour of his skin.
According to the Commission's ruling, Pradel Content, an English-speaking Black man who uses a cane due to a disability, was in the parking lot of a building on Biencourt St. on the night of July 12, 2018, talking to two friends, when he was approached by two police officers. Content was then arrested by the two officers.
According to a statement made by one of the officers, Philippe Belisle, the decision to arrest Content was made because the officer thought he was “dealing with something wrong” and that Content looked angry and aggressive.
Testimony from another officer, Kevin Langlois, stated that Content was calm and talking normally before his arrest.
According to the ruling, complaints regarding noise or suspicious activity had been made to police.
The ruling cited statements by the officers that the area was “hot” and known to be frequented by “problematic” people. The ruling stated that Belisle asked why Content had his cell phone out and after Content replied he wanted to protect his rights, the officers ridiculed and tripped him.
A municipal court judge ruled in Content's favour after concluding the officers abused their power, according to the Commission's ruling.
“The Commission is of the opinion, in light of the elements gathered during the investigation, that the evidence according to which Mr. Pradel Content was allegedly discriminated against, in the form of profiling, based on race, color and sex,” would be enough for Content to take the dispute to court. The ruling further states that it is the Commission's opinion Content's Charter rights were violated during the incident.
The Laval police department declined to comment on the case but said it is considering the commission's recommendations on racial training and collecting race-based data.
Content is no stranger to the Human Rights Commission, having previously won another case against the Laval police department that was connected to a 2017 incident. Content also won a 2019 case against the Montreal police in which he alleged two police offcers used unnecessary force and racially profiled him.