Repeatedly pulled over Repentigny man accuses police of racial profiling
A Repentigny man is accusing police of racial profiling, saying he has been pulled over while driving as often as five times per week.
On Wednesday, 22-year-old Stanley Jossirain said between March and August he was given more than $1,500 worth of tickets. He noted the fines were never for infractions like speeding, but for talking back to a police officer and similar charges.
In March, Jossirain claimed two Repentigny police officers pointed their guns at him after he turned without signaling. He said he was detained and the officers told him “At least you won’t die of a gunshot or end up in prison being f—ked up by another black guy.”
"I asked him (why the officers pulled their guns) and he said for his security," said Jossirain. "When I said 'What about my security?' he told me he didn't care about my security and if I ask him another question, he's going to put his gun in my mouth."
In March, Jossirain was stopped in his own driveway as he was leaving his home. Jossirain filmed an officer cursing at him during the ensuing confrontation.
"They follow me home, they wait outside my house, they insult me, they call me by my first name without even having to see my identification,” Jossirain said. “When I get pulled over, instead of handing me back my driver’s licence, they throw it on the ground."
He said that in one case he was stopped for no reason and handcuffed so tightly that he had to seek medical attention because he could not feel his hands.
"My hands were blue and I had to go see a doctor because for a few days I couldn't feel three of the fingers," said Jossirain.
Jossirain filed a civil rights complaint against the Repentigny police force and alleges that his black friends have faced similar treatment.
“For them, the cops, since there’s not a lot of black people, when they see us black people they automatically think we’re criminals and bad kids,” he said. “I think that’s why we’re being harassed by the cops in Repentigny.”
He said in one case, police responding to a complaint of cannabis smoking ignored a dozen white men and only searched him and his cousin -- even though they were not smoking.
He added that he feels afraid every time he gets behind the wheel.
"I feel like my life is not safe, I'm stressed out every time I see a cop car," he said. "I start shaking."
Jossirain has no criminal record, but is facing criminal charges of resisting arrest because of these incidents.
Repentigny's chief of police said she became aware of the incidents in August and ordered an investigation. Helen Dion said her department has no tolerance for discrimination and that Repentigny police officers do not pull people over without a reason.
Quebec's Police Ethics Commission is not commenting on the case because it is still before the tribunal.
A spokesperson for the Repentigny police department said officers don't pull people over without a reason.
Alain Babineau, a former police officer who currently serves as a law student intern at the Centre for Research-Action of Race Relations, called Jossirain’s case the most severe case of racial profiling he’s seen.
“It seems to me that when a police officer seeks a black individual, there’s this trigger of ‘Hmm, let me check them out, they might be up to no good,’” he said.