Laval man filing complaint after police delete video of his detention
A Laval man is filing a complaint to the police ethics board after a video of his detention was deleted.
Pradel Content says police illegally searched his phone and erased the recording he had made.
In a video taken by a gas station security camera, Content is seen driving up to the pumps in a car. He is seen getting out of the car and starting to film with his cell phone.
When Laval police arrive the interaction gets physical.
“He proceeded to get out of the car, slap the phone out of my hand and then push me,” Content said. “That's when I was like 'what's going on?'”
When officers returned the phone to him, the video was gone.
A copy of the police report confirms the footage was deleted.
“Since when is it illegal to tape someone if you're scared for your life?” Content said. “And I'm terrified for my life because the only proof that I have is my videotape. If you delete it, my videotape, then what proof do I have?”
CTV reached out to Laval Police for comment but didn’t receive a response.
According to the police report, Content was handcuffed and put in the back of a cruiser.
When he was released the report claims Content told the officers that in the United States black people would be shot by police, but at least someone would shoot back.
Content denies the claim.
“That’s when he said ‘you're lucky you're in Quebec because if you're in the States you know what they would do to people like you’”, he said.
In the end, Content was issued a ticket for using a phone while driving.
Human rights group CRARR has taken on the case and Content is filing a complaint to the Police Ethics Committee over excessive use of force, deleting the video, and illegal arrest.
“In this day and age when there's an obsession with security we need to re-establish the line between security and privacy,” said CRARR director Fo Niemi.
Earlier this year the Quebec Police Ethics Committee ruled an officer cannot ask a driver for their cellphone during a traffic stop.
According to lawyer Andrew Barbacki, filming an arrest is legal in Canada, as long as it doesn't obstruct the officer. However searching a cell phone requires a warrant.
“The Supreme Court has ruled that a phone is like a home or a business place so that it's a place within the technical meaning of a place and if you want to search a phone you have to have a warrant specifically for the phone,” Barbacki said.
Cell phone video can sometimes be used as evidence.
“You see on Youtube, and in the States, there are dashcams,” Barbacki said. “We've seen fatal interventions, people getting shot and incidents that have happened filmed by officers, it's really no different.”