Renewed criticisms of BEI's lack of diversity, prevalence of ex-cops
Three years after it was established, calls are being renewed for the Quebec Bureau of Independent Investigations to change its ways.
Launched in June 2016, the BEI was tasked with investigating incidents when a civilian is injured or killed during police interventions.
Before then, another police force would handle the investigation.
The BEI came under scrutiny from the get-go and has long been criticized for not being diverse enough and being made up of too many former police officers.
"Just the demographics of the people involved, there's nothing about them that actually represents the majority of people that are killed in custody," said Julie Matson from the Coalition of Justice for Victims of Police Killings.
Her father died while in police custody in Vancouver. The BEI isn't equipped to deal with these cases, she said.
"They're just essentially kind of paying lip service to the public because this is what has been demanded," she said, adding that moving forward, she hopes the public will have more of a say on the makeup of the BEI.
Balarama Holness of community group Montreal in Action agrees.
"Because of the individuals judging the cases who are often police officers themselves, we have police officers policing the police, and just that gives a reasonable apprehension of bias," he said.
In nearly three years, the BEI has opened 126 investigations:
- In 71cases, the Crown did not charge police officers
- 16 are under review by the Crown\
- 39 are currently being investigated by the BEI
The decision to not lay charges comes after an exhaustive review, said Jean-Pascal Boucher, spokesperson for the Crown prosecutor's office.
"Each single case is evaluated individually on the basis of the evidence by prosecutors and it's based on the evidence and also in regard of the law and the evidence in the file," he said.
CTV News requested a statement from Quebec Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault, but was told that because the BEI is an independent body, any comment could be perceived as interference.
Cesur Celik, whose son Koray died during a police 2017 intervention in Ile Bizard, expressed his frustration after the Crown recently chose to not lay charges against officers in that case.
"It's indescribably painful. The torture continues. We are constantly left in the dark. We don't get answers; there's no transparency," he said.