Montrealer who says police hurled racial slurs settles for $25,000
MONTREAL -- A man who was taken on a so-called starlight tour by two Montreal police officers in May 2012 has settled with the city for $25,000, but expressed disappointment the city dismissed his proposals to fight racial profiling and discrimination.
Julian Menezes, who is of South Asian descent, was driven around town handcuffed in the back of a cruiser and dropped off far from home after the officers had hurled racial slurs at him.
Menezes, 36, told a news conference Tuesday he's relieved the case, which centred on racial profiling and excessive force, is complete.
But he added he would be lying if he said the incident hasn't had a bit of a chilling effect on how he views law enforcement.
"I try to check that and I try to say it happened to me but this isn't every police officer," he said. "But I'm suspicious, I'm reticent and I try to avoid police as much as I can."
He expressed disappointment the City of Montreal did not consider measures to address what he calls systemic discrimination.
"I thought I was a full and equal citizen," Menezes said. "It strips you of your citizenship, it makes you feel like you don't belong here."
One of the officers involved was former police officer Stefanie Trudeau, who was best known by her badge number, "Agent 728."
Trudeau, who has since left the police force, gained notoriety in Quebec around that time after a number of high-profile incidents caught on video put her in the spotlight.
Menezes said he was detained as he attempted to defend a cyclist who was being intimidated by police during an arrest.
He said he was handcuffed and dumped into the cruiser without a seat belt, with his face slamming against the Plexiglas divider as he was driven around erratically.
Menezes was dumped in a Tim Horton's parking lot across town with no money and a $146 ticket.
The Quebec Human Rights Commission upheld the complaint and initially awarded Menezes $40,000 in 2017, but the city challenged the award.
The settlement, reached in June, comes without an admission of responsibility from authorities.
It also didn't come with an apology, which Menezes said he would have appreciated.
"It's an important step for restitution, it's an acknowledgment of wrongdoing and that's the only way we can move forward to say there are things that happened that we need to remedy," Menezes said.
Fo Niemi, executive director of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), a civil rights advocacy group, agreed such a gesture would be important and that change must come from the top, such as the police chief or the mayor's office.
"An apology does not carry liability, an apology is an acknowledgment of the fact that a citizen has not been treated well," he said.
Menezes said the city did sanction a social and racial profiling program in March.
"There are a lot of measures in there which speak to my experience and speak to the remedies we were thinking were essential, and it helped me make a settlement," he said.
Alain Babineau, a former RCMP officer who is a law intern at CRAAR specializing in racial profiling, said the type of behaviour described in Menezes' case shouldn't occur.
"The starlight tour is one of many other practices that shouldn't happen in policing," Babineau said.
"In this particular case, there was a settlement, but was there an acknowledgment that something was wrong?," he said. "I'm not particularly surprised that something happened, but I'm surprised at how it was responded to."