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A man is in the hospital after being shot in the lower body in Old Montreal Monday morning. Police were called to the area after "many gunshots" were heard near rue Gosford at around 3:15 a.m., SPVM media relations officer Jean-Pierre Brabant said.
The man, aged 29, had sustained "at least" one gunshot wound. He was arrested and is considered "suspect," Brabant explained.
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.
The SPVM has said it's analyzing an incident partially captured in an April 10 video showing a group of SPVM officers pinning down an individual while one officer repeatedly strikes them on the head. The video has circulated widely on social media and led to a public outcry.
This article contains graphic content that might not be suitable for some readers.
In a conversation with MTL Blog, a police spokesperson said the SPVM is still conducting an analysis but, based on initial information, described the strikes to the head as a "diversion" technique, which they said are "part of" the Modèle national d'emploi de la force.
On Saturday, April 10, Montreal police were filmed tackling a person to the ground.
As they had the person pinned, one officer appears to hold them in a chokehold and can be seen repeatedly punching the individual in the head.
Witness Agnes Bebon, who took 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. They then placed him in the back of a cop car and drove away," Bebon said.
Ocean Lewis, who is part of Racial Justice Collective and has been actively speaking out about what occurred on April 10, described the event as "completely unjust, unlawful, [and] unnecessary in every single fashion. It is proof of the double standard that exists in the police force."
"Hundreds of students — white, able-bodied, privileged students, young people — can go to a park [...], party for days on end, not social distance, no masks, but this one man […] almost got the chopping block."
"It is a double standard, it is disgusting, and it's just further proof that police use excessive force for people of colour," they said.
What do the police have to say about it?
The SPVM has said the officer responded with such force due to the individual biting the officer.
SPVM spokesperson David Shane told MTL Blog that "in this particular case, police officers were near Parc Jeanne-Mance and they observed an individual that was consuming alcohol on the public grounds [...]. The police officers warned him verbally that he could not drink alcohol."
Shane claimed the individual defied the police.
"When they went to approach him, he adopted [...] a fighting stance and showed them directly that he was going to resist actively," Shane continued.
He alleged that "the individual hit the police officers and bit one of them."
Officers arrested the individual "for assault against a peace officer and obstructing the work of a peace officer," Shane said.
The individual "also received a ticket for consuming alcohol on public grounds."
What does the SPVM have to say about this use of force?
The Modèle national d'emploi de la force states that "forceful techniques are used with the intention of ending a behaviour or enabling the application of a control technique to be applied."
The Model explains these may include "bare-handed strikes such as punches or kicks, a takedown technique or neck control."
"From what we gather, the police officer used 'diversion techniques,' including striking, so the individual would stop biting him," explained Shane.
"In any given situation, most of the time, the individual has the initiative. So, depending on the behaviour of the individual, that's going to dictate how the police respond."
"If an individual resists passively or actively, starts hitting them, biting them, then at that point, the police officer will escalate the use of diverse techniques. First off, to protect themselves, and also to be able to control the individual without hurting him as well," Shane claimed.