Multiple no-shows at coroner's inquest into Villanueva shooting
A coroner's inquest into the police shooting of teenager Fredy Villanueva got off to a rocky start Monday morning as nine of the 15 interested parties did not show up at the Montreal courthouse.
Lilian Villanueva, Fredy's mother, sent in a doctor's note saying she was too sick to attend.
She appeared in court later in the afternoon, but only to confirm that the family would not be participating in the process.
Villanueva, 18, was shot to death at a park in Montreal North last August, while Montreal police officers were attempting to arrest his older brother Dany.
The fatal shooting triggered rioting and widespread outrage in the community.
Victims cannot afford lawyers
Denis Meas, 18, and Jeffrey Sagor Metellus, 20 -- the two victims who were also wounded by gunshots on the night that Villanueva died -- have also pulled out of the inquest.
Meas, Metellus and members of the Villanueva family will testify in court because they have been subpoenaed, but they will not participate in the proceedings beyond that.
They are upset because the Quebec government will not cover all the victim's legal fees, while the police officers involved are backed by a team of high-priced lawyers.
"I ask myself what the public will think when they will see that the police forces are so well represented by top lawyers, but that three others aren't here because they can't afford to be represented," said Francois Daviault, lawyer for the Quebec coroner's office.
"The most interested parties must have access to a lawyer," he added.
The inquest had already been dogged by complaints that it's one-sided and won't address issues of racial profiling, police brutality and youth poverty.
"What we need is an investigation opened on all the context of why Fredy Villanueva was killed," said Ricardo Lamour, who showed up at the Montreal courthouse Monday to show his support for the Villanueva family.
Police officer cleared
The coroner's inquest was called after prosecutors said the officer responsible for shooting Villanueva would not be charged.
The prosecutors determined the officer had acted with justified force during the altercation.
With files from the Canadian Press