A fatal police shooting in CDN-NDG has the community reeling. The Quebec Coroner's Office has confirmed to MTL Blog that a 41-year-old man named Sheffield Matthews was shot and killed by SPVM officers in the early morning of Thursday, October 29.
Several reports, including a statement from the borough mayor, have identified Matthews as Black.
Preliminary information published by the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI) on Thursday indicates that a call was made at around 5:50 a.m. to report a man "in a state of crisis." The police arrived at the scene and saw the man, who allegedly approached the car armed with a knife.
The information submitted to the BEI suggests that the officers remained in their patrol car until the man allegedly approached another car that had a driver in it.
When police then approached him, according to the account, he "allegedly ran towards the police, still in possession of a knife."
"The policemen then fired and fatally wounded him."
The BEI made clear at the time it released this preliminary information, however, that its investigators still needed to confirm it is "accurate."
The borough mayor of CDN-NDG condemned the shooting
Sue Montgomery, mayor of the Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough, condemned the shooting in a Facebook post.
Angered by the death of Matthews at the hands of police officers, Montgomery said that "the senseless killing of people of colour needs to end. Systemic racism is undeniable. It is present in the SPVM and in all facets of our society."
Montgomery underlined the need for the SPVM to improve its relations with the community and put the Plante administration on blast for the recent loss of a local police station.
"What we need is police accountability. The SPVM is accountable to the municipal council and to all Montrealers," she said.
"What we need is long-awaited action on combatting racial and social profiling. We need to end discriminatory street checks that target racialized people."
An investigation is ongoing
The BEI assigned eight investigators to the case. The bureau has also called upon the Sûreté du Québec as a "support force" during the investigations.
A detailed report from the coroner's office is also forthcoming.
The BEI is asking anyone who might've witnessed the event to file a report with its investigators.
Montreal police say a 20-year-old man has died following reports of gunfire in the borough of Anjou. Officers found the man unconscious inside a vehicle after responding to a call at around 7:15 p.m. Thursday evening.
He was pronounced dead after emergency crews transported him to the hospital. The SPVM confirmed this was Montreal's 32nd homicide of 2021.
A second victim with what police described as minor injuries was found near the same vehicle. The victim, a 17-year-old male, was released from the hospital and spoke with investigators.
SPVM spokesperson Raphaël Bergeron said the 17-year-old is known to police.
Investigators are still analyzing the incident and as of 3:30 a.m., they had not determined a motive, Bergeron said.
The death of the 20-year-old man comes just over two weeks after the shooting death of 16-year-old Thomas Trudel in the Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension borough, which marked Montreal's 31st homicide in 2021.
Trudel's death on November 14 led to widespread outcry from Montrealers and political leaders both local and provincial who called for an end to gun violence in the city.
Mayor Valérie Plante and Premier François Legault both visited the site of the 16-year-old's death. Many have criticized the unequal attention both leaders appear to have given the tragedy involving Trudel, who media reports have identified as white, compared to two minors of colour who have been killed in recent months, 16-year-old Jannai Dopwell-Bailey and 15-year-old Meriem Boundaoui.
Mayor Plante has repeatedly called for a nationwide handgun ban to combat violence in Montreal and elsewhere in Canada.
In January, the SPVM will host a forum with community stakeholders to refine its strategy in the fight against gun crime.
Together, these officers make up the integrated weapons trafficking team, whose goal is to combat firearms trafficking and gun violence.
The search this group conducted came as "the result of an investigation initiated in March in relation to drug trafficking and prohibited firearms in Montreal," a press release from the SPVM reads.
On Thursday, December 2, police released an update about the search, which led to one arrest and the seizure of a handgun, a large capacity magazine, ammunition and more than $1,500 cash.
"During this operation, the police also arrested an 18-year-old man. He is scheduled to appear in court today at the Montreal Courthouse. Three other persons were also met by the police and released pending further investigation," the update read.
This operation was part of Quebec police's CENTAURE strategy against gun violence, which "has the mandate of ensuring constant pressure on organized crime and thus actively fighting against illegal firearms trafficking in Quebec."
“CENTAURE allows the Sûreté du Québec and all partner police forces to maximize their efforts at the national, regional and local levels targeting the supply, importation, distribution and illegal possession of firearms."
Police ask that if you ever have any information related to the possession, trafficking or use of firearms, you communicate such information to the CENTAURE information line at 1-833-888-ARME (2763).
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
But what exactly is scoring and why are the Montreal police concerned about it?
Scoring "is something that is used to brag on social media [...] people are going to set an objective and they're going to brag about it on social media saying they accomplished an exploit," Richer explained at a press conference on Monday.
In a nutshell, "scoring" can be understood as a social media trend in which criminals use social networks to brag and encourage violent achievements.
The deputy director called scoring a "new phenomenon" in Montreal: "Now we're seeing more and more of it."
He said that while in the past, crime syndicates and organized crime acted in "very precise" ways, now "social media is where it's going on. That's where people are talking to each other, they're bragging, they're settling some scores and after that, they're doing it on the street with real violence."
"Police services have to adapt."
Generally, experts have long argued that social media has drastically changed the face of crime. And with more crime emerging on social media networks, some researchers believe that the police can also use it as an effective tool for fighting crime.
In a March 2019 study on "The Relationship Between Social Media Data and Crime Rates in the United States," researchers at the University of California said their findings suggested it was "possible to identify emerging crime hot spots using social media."
"When we talk about the hottest place in Montreal right now, it's social media," Richer said Monday.
"That's where we want to work; we want to work on this aspect of society that's different than it [was] two to five years ago."
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
Montreal police have a new initiative to address gun violence in Montreal. At a joint press conference at City Hall on Monday, Mayor Valérie Plante and SPVM Deputy Director Vincent Richer announced the launch of a special forum on armed violence.
This forum will "bring together institutional and community decision-makers to make joint commitments based on a concerted strategy," according to an SPVM press release.
[S\u00e9curit\u00e9 \u00e0 Montr\u00e9al]\nLe #SPVM annonce la tenue d\u2019un Forum montr\u00e9alais pour la lutte contre la violence arm\u00e9e.\n\nD\u00e9tails http://bit.ly/31aa03m
The SPVM will meet with community organizers in a series of meetings this December, and the two-day forum in January "will be an opportunity to find concrete solutions by taking into account the mission, expertise and issues of each partner involved in the fight against gun violence," the release states.
In the press conference, Richer underscored that Montreal is still a safe city despite recent incidents of violence. Compared to other cities in North America, Montreal remains statistically "safe," he said.
Both he and Plante said officials need to address access to and demand for firearms.
"As a police service, we work on the offer and we have to work on the demand also," Richer said. "That's the part where the forum comes into play — working on the demand."
The mayor has repeatedly called for action on the accessibility of guns.
"You can get it by mail; you can make those guns if you have the right printer," she said, expressing hope that the upcoming forum will be an opportunity for experts and community members to weigh in on the root causes of violence.