“I’m not happy with the decision” says Pradel Content, a Black man from Laval, north of Montreal, after a police officer was suspended for 18 days without pay for racially profiling Pradel during a 2017 incident. “18 days? It’s repugnant.”
Quebec’s police ethics committee ruled back in November 2021 that Laval officer Michaël Boutin racially profiled Content, and issued the sanctions recently.
“83 days would be alright, that would be justifiable. I don’t understand how the law works and they break it down to 18 days, but that’s nothing. Any other officer could do the same again and know they will get a slap on the wrist,” explained Content, who always said it was a case of driving while Black.
In May of 2017, Content was stopped by Boutin at a gas station and video footage from a nearby surveillance camera helped in the case.
He was shoved and the police officer then deleted Content’s cellphone recording of the interaction. The officer later lied about Content having links to gangs to justify his actions.
BACKGROUND: ‘It has to stop somewhere’: relief after Black man wins his racial profiling case against Laval officer
Surveillance footage showed Content was holding his phone at chest level, not shoving it in the officer’s face as Boutin testified and showed the cop knocking the phone on the ground and pushing the man into his car.
The committee upheld six of the twelve violations against Boutin, who said that during the altercation he’s lucky to live in Quebec rather than the United States, “because they shoot people like you there.”
“He did everything wrong that a police officer could do wrong and the only reason I’m liable to win this case is because I went to the gas station and got that footage. If I didn’t have that footage, I would have lost. He deleted my video which had more incriminating evidence against him,” said Content.
Fo Niemi, Executive Director and co-founder of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations says the decision of the police ethics committee is important. “It recognizes the gravity of two things: racial profiling on the part of the officer, and that two months after the incident he filed a false report upon the instructions of his superior, falsely linking him to gang members, even though he has no connections to gang members, to justify the police officers action.”
Content, who has filed multiple complaints with the police ethics commission, says it’s time for authorities to act to reverse the trend.
CityNews reached out to the Laval police department for comment. In a statement, they say:
“The Laval Police service (SPL) acknowledges the decision on sanctions issued by the police ethics commission on January 7 in the case of Michaël Boutin. We want to emphasize the independence and the importance of ethics within police functions. We will provide our full and complete cooperation in the application of the sanctions. The SPL does not tolerate any form of discrimination. Integrity, respect and diversity are at the heart of our department’s values and guide our daily actions and our ongoing commitment to the Laval community.”
The May 2017 case is still before the Quebec Human Rights Commission and Content remains determined to seek more justice.
“It’s a lot of stress because I thought I was getting somewhere, and I still feel like I’m getting somewhere, but somewhere between the higher officers and the committee, I don’t understand how they got to this conclusion. This officer did everything wrong and on top of that lied so consistently about it, and he’s still only getting 18 days. I don’t know, I feel like I’m in the twilight zone.”