Chateauguay man alleges police racial profiling in appeal over 2015 pepper spraying
A Chateauguay man who was pepper sprayed by a police officer who pulled him over almost three years ago is contesting his conviction of traffic violations, saying he was the victim of racial profiling.
In December, 2015, John Chilcott said an officer approached him in the parking lot of his home after he had picked up his two daughters from school. The officer asked for identification and Chilcott said he replied, asking what he had done wrong.
That’s when he said the officer pepper sprayed him, with his children looking on.
“I was treated like an animal,” he said.
He was given three tickets – one for flashing his vehicle’s lights, one for refusing to identify himself and one for not stopping his car when asked by police. In total, the fines for the three tickets exceeded $1,000.
Chilcott was later found guilty for all three tickets but on Monday, his attorney argued an appeal, saying the racial profiling was never brought up.
“We want to tell the court that the police intervention was based on race,” said his lawyer Aymar Missakila. “The lower-court judge failed to take that into consideration.”
The prosecution argues that the facts of the case are simple: Chilcott had his hazard lights on for no reason, which is technically a traffic violation, and when police approached him, he refused to show his papers.
Chilcott and his family were not present for the hearing.
In August, 2017 the Police Ethics Commissioner dismissed a complaint filed by Chilcott’s wife, Rosemarie Edwards. The family was assisted in that complaint by the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations. Amanda Farrace, a spokesperson for that organization, said the officer was out line for asking to see ID.
"We're arguing in this appeal that the initial reason that sparked the officer's curiosity was he saw Mr. Chilcott talk to a young white girl, who was one of his daughter's friends and he used the flashing hazard lights as a pretense," she said.
When a case is heard on appeal, lawyers cannot introduce new evidence or call witnesses, and may only debate points of law
The judge said he will look at the video again, and will issue his ruling at a later date.