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Lawyer Of Man Punched By Officer Says It 'Definitely Seems Like A Racial Profiling Case'

A viral video showed Montreal police pin down Nizar Laarais in Parc Jeanne-Mance.
Lawyer Of Man Punched By Montreal Police Officer Speaks Out

After a video of a forceful arrest of an individual at Montreal's Parc Jeanne-Mance went viral and lead to a widespread outcry, many were left questioning the officers' actions, which included punching the individual in the head.

This article contains graphic content that might not be suitable for some readers.

The name of the man in the video is Nizar Laarais. His legal representative, Fernando Belton, told MTL Blog that this incident "definitely seems like a racial profiling case."

Editor's Choice: Video Showing An SPVM Officer Punching Someone In The Head Has Led To Widespread Outcry

What does the video show?

The video taken on April 10 shows several SPVM officers pinning Laarais to the ground.

One of the officers can be seen punching Laarais in the head several times.

Agnes Bebon, who witnessed the incident and shared the video above, told MTL Blog: "I saw [an] officer on a bike hit the man with the bike as he was walking. The officers then tackled him and placed him in a neck hold and then started punching him in the face."

"People were screaming that he can't breathe and to let him go. [Police] then placed him in the back of a cop car and drove away," Bebon said.

What does Belton say about Laarais' forceful arrest?

Police have claimed Laarais defied officers after they told him to stop consuming alcohol in public.

"Assuming that M. Laarais was actually drinking a beer and that the police officer wanted to give him a ticket, would a reasonable, prudent, diligent, and competent officer placed in the same circumstances have chased the citizen and rammed into him with his bike?" 

"If M. Laarais had been a white woman, would he have been treated with the same level of force? Did the alleged offence warrant such a significant use of force?"

"I have a feeling that my client received differential treatment," Belton continued.

What does the SPVM have to say?

The SPVM declined to comment on Belton's statement "out of respect for the judicial process."

In a statement previously shared with MTL Blog, a spokesperson said police were analyzing the incident.

The spokesperson claimed Laarais "adopted [...] a fighting stance and showed them directly that he was going to resist actively" after officers "warned him verbally that he could not drink alcohol." 

Police said Laarais was biting the officer who punched him in the head.

The spokesperson called the punches a "diversion [technique]."

"Nothing we can see in the video allows us to conclude that he resisted arrest," Belton countered.

"Very often, police officers will try to blame the person they’ve arrested for their own excessive use of force," the lawyer added.