A new report has found that more than half of the people killed in the Quebec city of Montreal were impotted in their homes by the police officers who stopped them for no reason, and most of those who died had no prior history of mental illness.
The findings were presented to the National Assembly of Canada by Quebec’s Justice Minister Jean-Yves Duclos in the House of Commons on Wednesday, and are part of a wide-ranging study by the Montreal Police Service on how the department responds to people with mental illness and its response to crime.
Duclos presented the report in front of the national police union on Wednesday and called on the federal government to support efforts to improve public mental health care.
Police officers who stop someone on the street for no apparent reason, but who are unable to prove that they have been involved in a crime, are in breach of their oath of office and are in contravention of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Duclous said.
In one incident in January 2018, an officer stopped a woman on a street in the western borough of Montreal and pulled her over after she drove a black BMW with a Quebec licence plate.
The woman told police that she had been in a taxi cab when she had stopped, but the police officer told her she was not a taxi driver.
Ducloses investigation uncovered that the officer had no background in police or criminal investigations, but had no trouble driving the woman to her home in a red pickup truck.
The woman’s son, who was in the car, was arrested and charged with criminal negligence causing death and assault causing bodily harm.
He later pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to six months in prison.
In March 2018, a man was driving a taxi on the Montreal sidewalk when the driver who had pulled him over stopped him, and then refused to pay.
DuCloses investigation revealed that the driver had a criminal history and had been charged with two offences.
The driver, who had been fired in March 2018 from his job as a cab driver, appealed the decision to the Court of Appeal, but was unsuccessful.
DuCloses report found that in a third incident, a woman was stopped by police on a sidewalk in the downtown area on the night of January 16, 2019, and pulled over for failing to signal a lane change.
The officer pulled the woman over for no clear reason and said she was being “obstructive” when he pulled her to the sidewalk.
Du Closes investigation showed that the woman had a history of psychiatric issues and that she was a licensed substance abuser.
In the case of one of the women stopped on the sidewalk, Du Clos found that the police department had failed to provide her with appropriate treatment for the underlying mental illness, and had not been in communication with her family.
Du Closes report also found that police officers in Quebec were routinely exposed to excessive force during encounters with people with psychological or psychiatric disorders, and that officers who were physically assaulted or injured by people with psychiatric disorders had no right to protection under the Charter of Human Rights.
The report, which Duclosen said was “the most comprehensive look at this type of incident in recent memory,” also found a pattern of excessive force against people with intellectual disabilities.
“The report paints a picture of a police force that is often out of control,” Ducloser told reporters.
“We know there is a need for change.”
The report recommends that the provincial government take steps to improve police training and oversight, and to create a mental health commission to oversee the police force.