The family of a 23-year-old black man killed by police is suing Montreal for $1.1M
Published Tuesday, October 30, 2018 12:07PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 30, 2018 6:58PM EDT
The family of a 23-year-old man who was fatally shot by police in NDG is suing the city of Montreal for more than $1 million.
On Tuesday, Gibbs' family - accompanied by their lawyers - showed a cell phone video taken of the altercation with police during a press conference.
The family maintains that police used ‘excessive’ and a 'disproportionate' amount of force during their intervention on Montclair Ave.
“I have to live the rest of my life knowing I won't be able to see my son again. It's not going to be easy for me to live in this city knowing this,” said Erma Gibbs, the man's mother. “I can't sleep at night. I think about it often. It happened right in the area I'm living in now.”
Quebec's police watchdog, the BEI, is investigating the incident.
Police were called to Montclair about a fight between two men. Officers say Gibbs had a knife, and they had unsuccessfully tried to subdue him with a Taser.
Five shots are fired in the video - two of them while Gibbs' back is turned to police. He collapsed in the street immediately after. It's not clear how many bullets Gibbs is hit by, or how many officers fired.
His family says that Gibbs had ongoing mental health issues and it wasn't his first run-in with police. They say, though, that nothing could justify the officer's actions.
“They have other means (that are) less violent to intervene. Knife or not, this intervention should have finished differently,” added Virginie Dufresne-Lemire, a lawyer for the family.
Gibbs leaves behind three young children.
The family is suing for $1,035,000 in moral damages and $100,000 in punitive damages. "Me, I'm not speechless right now," said Erma Gibbs. "For me, on my behalf, I want those police officers to be charged. My son didn't have to die like that."
"Whoever was involved in that shooting, I wonder how they drive every day - how they patrol the street - and they go to touch their gun, to know they took the life of an innocent black man," she added.
They are currently crowdfunding to cover their legal fees.
Communist activist and former police officer Will Prosper said
“This has to stop. We have to protect the lives of every black citizen in this community. In NDG, Montreal North, in all these different places. Out of the last ten people shot by police, four of them were black people,” he said.
Law firm Arsenault, Dufresne and Wee, representing the family, added in a statement: "This violence is part of the usual continuum of [police] intervention that all too often leads to the death of vulnerable, black, and individuals with mental health issues," said in a statement issued Tuesday.
CTV Montreal reached out to the city of Montreal for a comment and received no response.
The family of Nicholas Gibbs, 23, filed a lawsuit today against the city of Montreal. Gibbs was shot & killed in Aug. by police responding to a fight in NDG. Family says police used “excessive and disproportionate force”. This memorial is close to where he died. @CTVMontreal pic.twitter.com/KjYey2V0HS— Kelly Greig (@KellyGreig) October 30, 2018
Nicholas Gibbs, a 23-year-old father of three young children, was shot by officers on August 21, 2018, after allegedly threatening them with a knife.