Police watchdog to investigate Quebec City officer linked to two violent arrests
Quebec City police (SPVQ) said Monday there are reasonable grounds to believe a police officer has committed a crime in two incidents following a series of videos in recent days showing violent altercations with the public.
The two incidents were referred to Quebec’s public safety ministry. Citing the “exceptional nature of the events” and an agreement with the province, the SPVQ agreed to also refer the cases to the police watchdog, the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI).
The BEI says the two incidents that it will now analyze took place on Nov. 20 in the city's Grande-Allée and Chevrotière sector and on Oct. 17 inside a "licensed establishment" on St-Joseph Street. Investigators' jobs will be to determine the circumstances of the two incidents and help Quebec's public prosecution office, the DPCP, determine if charges should be laid.
Public Safety Minister Geneviève Guilbault said Monday that her department mandated that the BEI get involved.
She also confirmed that the two incidents being investigated for possible criminality are the third and fourth video that surfaced last week.
In the third video, posted to Instagram, an officer is allegedly seen dispersing a crowd outside a bar appearing to hold a tear gas device. The officer can be heard saying to a man, “Do you want me to tear gas you?” while swearing at him just before he forcefully shoves him back into a police cruiser.
The fourth video was taken from surveillance footage inside a bar where officers were enforcing the vaccine passport. In the video, published by Le Journal, an officer can allegedly be seen throwing a man into a hallway, causing him to hit a wall head first and split open the skin.
The man was reportedly there to celebrate a birthday, according to his spouse.
The BEI said witnesses of both events can contact them by emailing email@example.com.
"My responsibility is to ensure that a strong bond of trust is maintained between our citizens and our police officers. The Service de police de la Ville de Québec has conducted its internal investigation in a diligent manner, which has led it to make allegations to me regarding possible criminal offences," Guilbault was quoted as saying in a news release from the province on Monday. "I am therefore requesting that the Independent Investigation Bureau review these allegations as provided for in the Police Act. I salute the speed and thoroughness with which the SPVQ acted in this case."
She told reporters Monday that she also mandated that the Police Ethics Comissioner investigate the actions mof police officers seen in the first and second videos that came out last week, which are still being probed by an internal SPVQ investigation.
All four videos appear to show the same police squad, known as GRIPP, which is tasked with patrolling bars and restaurants and enforcing public health measures related to COVID-19.
Last Tuesday, the SPVQ announced that five officers had been suspended, with pay, following the publication of the first video of a violent takedown of two Black youth outside the Dagobert bar. Of those five officers, three were said to be involved in a second incident at the Portofino restaurant.
The second video, captured by someone inside the Italian restaurant, allegedly showed officers kneeling on and punching 29-year-old Jean-Philippe St-Laurent on the floor on top of broken glass. He suffered a broken nose and a concussion.
It was later revealed that the same officer was involved in at least three of the videos published last week.
At a press conference last Thursday, Police Chief Denis Turcotte didn't say if the same officer was also implicated in the fourth video under investigation, but said, "We will get to the bottom of this."
LISTEN ON CJAD 800 RADIO: What is wrong with Quebec City's police force? Alexane Drolet, Reporter at Noovo Info