Laval arrest underlines Quebecers' right to film police, says Human Rights Commission
MONTREAL -- In video footage from 2017, Pradel Content pulls over as Laval police approach, and he begins to film them.
Content has won a human rights case over what followed, with the City of Laval ordered to pay $18,000 in moral damages and the officers involved ordered to pay $6,000.
But he says that the ruling wouldn’t have been possible without the footage, and that even that footage was only available by happenstance -- since the officers took Content’s phone.
After the phone was gone, the traffic stop was captured by surveillance cameras that happened to be in the right place. And the Quebec Human Rights Commission found the officers’ description of the arrest didn’t match up with the video record.
The decision by the Quebec Human Rights Commission, which is mostly about Contento’s physical treatment during the incident, also affirms that it’s perfectly legal to film the police—police must have a warrant in order to take any Quebec citizen’s phone.
That night, the officers arrested Content for distracted driving but hurt him in the process.
“He slammed me on the car, used excessive force,” said Content.
“Violated my rights, deleted my video, also I’m a [handicapped] person and he also told me I’m handicap in my head.”
His disability was a factor in the case, said Fo Niemi of the group Centre for Research Action on Race Relations.
“It says that they way that force was used on him, the disregard for his physical well-being and safety, the disregard for his disability, is a form of discrimination based on disability on the part of the police officers,” said Niemi.
In addition to the payment, Laval has also been ordered to develop policies on racial profiling and on the search and seizure of cellphones.
Content, whose mother now accompanies him when he drives in Laval, has three other pending complaints against police with the human rights commission.