January 27, 2020
Police Brutality News

Montreal police officers suspended for violent arrest of …

Montreal police officers suspended for violent arrest of …

a person and a dog sitting in front of a building: Jennifer Paquette and her dog, Clumsy, seen in a November 2019 photo, sit in a parking lot where she had a confrontation with Montreal police in 2014. On Monday, she said: “There are many complaints each year and most of them go nowhere. I won everywhere.”© Allen McInnis
Jennifer Paquette and her dog, Clumsy, seen in a November 2019 photo, sit in a parking lot where she had a confrontation with Montreal police in 2014. On Monday, she said: “There are many complaints each year and most of them go nowhere. I won everywhere.”

A Montreal police officer has been suspended for eight days for the violent arrest of a political activist who briefly lost consciousness after being tackled to the ground.

Constable Paul Jr. Morin used excessive force when he barrelled into Jennifer Paquette as she stood with her hands in the air, the Quebec police ethics committee has ruled.

Paquette, 33, suffered a head injury and a neck sprain in the 2014 incident, which happened in a parking lot across the street from the Montreal courthouse.

Morin, a 16-year veteran, received a five-day suspension without pay for “the seriousness of his misconduct,” the ethics committee ruled.

He was suspended an additional three days for the arbitrary arrest and illegal detention of Paquette that night.

Constable Ken Leblond was also suspended for three days for participating in Paquette’s arrest following an anti-capitalist protest.

In May 2019, five years after the controversial arrest, a Quebec Superior Court judge awarded Paquette $55,000 after she sued the officers and the city of Montreal for damages.

In a Jan. 17 decision, the police ethics committee ruled that Paquette’s arrest was premeditated, saying she was the only person arrested at the scene that night.

Paquette, whose street name is Bobette, has been a fixture at protests against police brutality and capitalism for years. She often carries a megaphone and belts out slogans chanted by protesters.

On May Day in 2014, the circus artist participated in a march marking International Workers’ Day.

The demonstration was declared illegal because organizers refused to give police an itinerary. Under the city’s P-6 bylaw, which has since been scrapped, protesters were fined if organizers failed to provide an itinerary.

Paquette was warned by a police officer that she could be rearrested if she continued demonstrating that night.

After hearing that police were kettling protesters near the Palais des congrès, Paquette headed there to observe the scene. However, she remained apart from the protesters and kept her megaphone in her backpack, something confirmed by the independent media who filmed the protest.

When police turned up to disperse the crowd, Paquette walked ahead of the protesters and stopped in a parking lot on St-Antoine St.

Morin saw Paquette and asked his supervising officer for permission to arrest her.

As a group of eight officers entered the parking lot, Morin broke away and ran toward Paquette. As she raised her hands, he barrelled into her and knocked her down. Her neck struck the megaphone in her backpack and she briefly lost consciousness after hitting her head on the ground.

Morin and Leblond took Paquette by the arm, dragged her out of the parking lot and detained her in front of Steve’s Music Store.

They removed her backpack and tied her wrists behind her back using plastic tie wraps.

Morin told her she was being arrested because she had continued to protest after being fined earlier in the evening. Another police officer then drove her to a police-processing centre, where she was kept in a van for 30 minutes.

After being released, Paquette met up with friends who took her to a hospital emergency room. She was found to have a neck sprain and suffered from headaches and bouts of dizziness. When she was released, she was given a neck brace and pain medication. She had recurring pain for about a year after the arrest and required physiotherapy.

In his police report detailing Paquette’s arrest, Morin justified it by saying she was shouting slogans into her megaphone.

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However, under cross-examination during the civil case, Morin acknowledged that video evidence did not show Paquette holding her megaphone prior to the arrest.

Paquette said she was thrilled with the length of Morin’s suspension.

“To get eight days is enormous,” she said on Monday.  “There are many complaints each year and most of them go nowhere. I won everywhere.”

Montreal police said they do not comment on ethics committee decisions.

Geneviève Grey, Paquette’s lawyer in the civil case, said she was pleased the ethics committee recognized that the police officers’ actions were unacceptable.

Between the financial settlement and the suspensions, “justice was served in this case,” she said.

kwilton@postmedia.com

Published at Mon, 27 Jan 2020 10:34:47 +0000

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