Four years after violent arrest, woman sues city, SPVM officers for $700,000
A Montreal woman is suing the City of Montreal and two police officers, saying she was violently arrested due to racial profiling four years ago.
Majiza Philip was 24-years-old at the time of the arrest, an event that she said has left lasting mental scars.
“I suffer from PTSD, I take medication for anti-anxiety,” she said. “Day-to-day, it’s hard, because I’m extremely afraid of the police.”
Philip’s grandmother, tap dance legend Ethel Bruneau, said the arrest was deeply traumatic for her granddaughter.
“I see my granddaughter who will never be the same,” she said. “I’m calling on Mayor Valerie Plante to get up, stand by my granddaughter and all the minority citizens of Montreal.”
In 2014, Philip was arrested in front of a downtown nightclub. During the arrest, her left arm was badly fractured, requiring a four-hour surgery and metal plate to correct.
Included as defendants in her lawsuit are Eric Sabourin and Steve Thibert, the officers who arrested her. A complaint filed regarding the officers with the police ethics committee ended with a ruling saying the officers did nothing wrong, but in Philip’s criminal trial, where she stood accused of assaulting the officers, the judge found Sabourin and Thibert’s testimony to be contradictory.
In their ruling, the judge said “having read the testimonies of the police officers, the court has no idea why Ms. Philip was arrested.”
The City of Montreal and SPVM both declined to comment.
Philip is being aided in her lawsuit by the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations. CRARR law intern and former police officer Al Babineau said her case is not isolated.
“This is not a one-off,” he said. “I’ve been with CRARR since May and I’ve seen all kinds (of incidents). Perhaps not as egregious as this case, but I’ve seen all kinds of misbehaviours by police officers.”
Philip said she feels it’s her duty to speak out about police brutality.
“I’m here today because it’s happening more and more in Montreal,” she said. “It’s happening more and more to minorities, specifically black people are being targeted and racially profiled by police.”
“I never wanted to go after this in a financial way. I just wanted these officers to have to be accountable for their actions, because they’re people just like I am, and they assaulted me.”