Fourth video submitted of police violence in Quebec City, chief admits; all involve same squad
MONTREAL -- Quebec City's police chief confirmed Thursday that a single officer appeared in all three videos published this week showing violent altercations with police.
There's also a fourth video, Chief Denis Turcotte said in a press conference Thursday.
The existence of the fourth video was first reported by Le Journal earlier Thursday. It reportedly shows officers from the same squad involved in the first three videos, the GRIPP squad, which is tasked with patrolling restaurants and bars.
Some of the video is surveillance from inside a bar in the St-Roch district, showing officers taking issue with people dancing onstage, against COVID-19 rules.
A 36-year-old man, there to celebrate a birthday with his spouse, was shoved, and a second video shot outside shows officers carrying him and shoving his head against a wall, where the skin split and bled, according to the interview the man and his spouse gave Le Journal.
The couple requested the surveillance video from the bar in October, when the event occurred, and turned it over to Quebec City police Thursday morning.
"All the documents are in our possession," said Turcotte.
The force is asking the public to turn over any more video evidence from the events.
In its internal investigations, it hasn't yet spoken to any witnesses or officers, Turcotte said, but he said that if criminal wrongdoing were suspected, the case would be turned over to the Crown prosecutor's office for evaluation.
If not, the internal investigation could end in internal sanctions.
There are also independent investigations happening into the first two videos by the Police Ethics Commissioner.
Five officers have already been suspended, with pay, including three who appeared in multiple videos, including the one who appeared in all three (Turcotte didn't say if he also appears in the fourth).
"We will get to the bottom of this," said Turcotte.
'FORCE IS EMPLOYED FAIRLY REGULARLY'
The first video was the one showing 18-year-old Pacifique Niyokwizera last Friday night or early Saturday.
The second showed an incident earlier Friday night, when officers punched and kneeled on 29-year-old Jean-Philippe St-Laurent inside an Italian restaurant, breaking his nose.
The third, which came to light on Wednesday, shows an incident in October, said Turcotte. He said there were assaults committed and about 15 people who ended up outside an establishment, and 20 officers arrived "to disperse the crowd." Several people were arrested and some were fined, he said.
The fourth was the one that ended with the 36-year-old man's head bleeding.
Turcotte said that "people do resist their arrest often" and that "force is employed fairly regularly when people resist."
Still, he said, the videos are "worrying," and the investigation will show if the officers' actions are "reprehensible."
Generally, force may be used only until a person is controlled, he said.
Police will take any complaints by the public into consideration, even if there are no videos, Turcotte. added.
In explaining the unit involved, GRIPP, he said officers apply to join that squad and are evaluated for it. They become "specialized" over time, through training.
In both videos that came from the inside of bars or restaurants this week, the establishments' owners told media that they hadn't called the squad, but that the officers appeared without notice to check vaccine passports or ensure other health rules were being followed.
LISTEN ON CJAD 800 RADIO: What is wrong with Quebec City's police force? Alexane Drolet, Reporter at Noovo Info
--With files from CTV's Matt Grillo.