Mayor Valerie Plante is calling for bodycams to be worn by Montreal police officers on duty after multiple videos circulated online showing officers tackling a man to the ground and punching him repeatedly in the head while he was already placed in a choke hold at Jeanne-Mance park.
“It is important to know the context of an incident beyond what is shared online. It is important to have the beginning, the middle and the end.” Plante told reporters on Monday.
In one video, the man could be seen running from police officers who were chasing him on foot and on bikes. An officer on a bike rammed into his body at full speed tackling him to the ground, then several officers joined in the arrest dragging his body over the pavement.
According to Montreal police inspector, David Shane, the man was allegedly in violation of a municipal by-law for drinking in public. According to Shane “They asked him to stop.. he continued. When they went to intervene, he adopted a combat position. He showed officers that he meant to become physical and actively resist.”
Another video shared online showed a close-up of the arrest. Five officers can be seen holding down the man’s body from different angles, while one — who was sitting on top of him -was holding his neck in a choke hold while punching the man violently in the head.
“They are choking him!” an onlooker can be heard screaming. “This is not ok!”
Distressed by what they were witnessing, onlookers could be heard yelling at officers “why are you choking him?”
In the last few seconds of the video, the officer holding the man in a choke-hold turned the man’s head sideways at which point he could be heard gasping for air and a second later he appears to pass out.
“They choked him!” an onlooker could be heard screaming.
According to the video poster, Agnes Reiss, officers continued to “beat him” once he woke up after passing out.
Ensemble Montréal, the city hall’s official opposition, called for the rapid deployment of body cams on SPVM police officers in February 2020 as part of an effort to combat police racial profiling after the idea was rejected by the Plante administration earlier that year and in 2019. Mayor Plante had said that it was “too costly”.
Anjou Mayor Luis Miranda, Snowdon councillor Marvin Rotrand and Anjou councillor Andrée Hénault, mandated by 30 local community groups demanded the purchase of body cameras for police officers in January of this year.
“In response, the administration of Mayor Valérie Plante said it would re-examine its past position, which was an unequivocal refusal to obtain body cameras. Yet as we enter 2021, nothing has happened and there is still no plan on the horizon.” they wrote in a statement.The Municipal Police Federation (FPMQ) agrees that body cameras are an excellent working tool for officers, but do not know if they can expect funding from the government or from the cities they work for to purchase the video equipment.
“Investment decisions dictate the projects that we can or cannot do, regardless of what we are ready and willing to do,” FPMQ president Francois Lemay told The Suburban.