MONTREAL (CITYNEWS) – A black Montreal man is accusing police of racial discrimination after being dragged from his car by his hair and pinned to the ground last week – on the same day George Floyd was killed in the United States.
Samuel, whose last name CityNews has agreed not to reveal for safety concerns, says police in Laval – north of Montreal – had “no reason” to target him on the night of May 25.
The incident was caught on video. It has been viewed nearly a million times online.
“Before I was confused, and after I started getting afraid because you know everything that happens around the world,” said Samuel. “And I was kind of scared because he told me to get out the car. All I was asking was why, and if I get out the car, what’s going to happen.
“They dragged me out the car, like everybody saw in the video. I think that’s what really traumatized me. At the moment and still now, I’m still traumatized.”
Samuel says he and his two friends did nothing unlawful to attract the attention of Laval police officers that night.
“We were just trying to get some water at the dep (convenience store). We didn’t burn no red light, no stops, not speeding. So they just came at us for no reason, because they saw three young black guys in the car.
“I didn’t deserve nothing to get that.”
Samuel is speaking out at a time when protests denouncing police violence and systemic racism continue across the United States, Canada and the world.
After watching the video, community activist Will Prosper says he does not understand why Laval police resorted to force.
“I was a former police officer,” said Prosper. “When I see the case of Samuel, I’m always wondering why is there a rush, why they can’t take their time.
“Plus, what’s the reason they pulled them over? They always have a reason. Were they driving erratically? Well how come there’s no accusation for driving while impaired?”
The incident is under investigation with the police ethics commission after four complaints were filed.
While not commenting on the incident directly, Laval police said it did not have a racial profiling problem, pointing to the mere eight racial-profile complaints filed last year.
Prosper says these type of incidents – and the videos that make them public – are happening far too often.
“It definitely sheds light to the need of finding reform from the police to stop racial profiling,” he said. “There are so many things they could have done. There are so many reports that are already out there, so many recommendations. And none of that has been applied really in Montreal.
“So what are we waiting for to take action?”
Meanwhile Samuel says he hasn’t slept well since the incident. He wants to remind Canadians these kinds of police encounters don’t just happen in the United States.
“I’m not supposed to be scared of the police,” he said. “That’s not normal. But that’s the reality.”