Man accuses Montreal police of racial profiling after being pepper-sprayed following a traffic stop
MONTREAL -- A Black Montrealer is accusing police of racial profiling after he says he was pepper-sprayed by white officers during a violent arrest.
A video taken June 24 shows Lamine Sale Nkouendji being forcibly removed from his vehicle by two white Montreal police officers. Since then, multiple videos of the same arrest have emerged, showing crowds watching the man screaming in pain as his car was impounded.
CTV News Montreal contacted the SPVM for a comment, but was told that wouldn't be possible before Monday.
Nkouendji told CTV he feels the police officers racially profiled him while he was stopped at a traffic light on Van Horne Ave. and Querbes Ave. in Montreal’s Outremont borough.
He said he saw the two police officers make a U-turn before they pulled him over.
“I asked the agent the reason for my arrest. He said, ‘You passed through a yellow light,’” said Nkouendji.
When the officer returned, according to Nkouendji, he was told his license was suspended for unpaid fines - something that "surprised" him to hear - and that the car had to be towed.
Nkouendji asked if a friend could come pick up his car, but the officer told him that it must be impounded for 30 days.
“I asked him to explain and he told me, ‘Mister, get out of the vehicle now!’” said Nkouendji. “I am trying to understand the reasons for seizing the vehicle, and I see him and his colleague putting on their gloves. They started pulling me by my clothes.”
When he asked for time to get his phone and other personal effects, Nkouendji said, they continued forcing him out of the car and pepper-sprayed him.
“The first time he missed my face, and I begged [him] not to do that. Then he put his arm between my hands and sprayed the pepper directly in my eye,” he said.
"They were trying to pull him out," said witness Miriam Vaillancourt, who recorded the arrest on her phone and posted it later the same day on Instagram.
"It was pretty violent... It was mostly him screaming that he wanted to take his phone."
The video shows Nkouendji pulled out of the car, cuffed, and made to sit on the ground. He said he has an injured eye from a prior traffic accident and has trouble seeing out of it.
Nkouendji said the combination of the eye injury and the pepper spray made the pain excruciating and he asked several times for water, which he says was denied at first and then given to him after about 10 minutes.
Nkouendji added that his request for a lawyer was also denied.
He was released after around 30 minutes and was charged with obstructing a police officer.