Victims’ families rally against police brutality

October 22, 2010

Family and friends of six men who died after being shot, Tasered or kicked by police in Canada in the past decade are to join protests this weekend in Montreal.

Yesterday, they recounted how their loved ones had died in encounters with police in Quebec and British Columbia and urged supporters to attend the rally.

Holding back tears, Lilian Villanueva said there was “no reason” for Montreal police Constable Jean-Loup Lapointe to have fatally shot her unarmed son, Dany, 18, in August 2008.

At the time, Lapointe was scuffling with Dany’s brother, Fredy, who was among a group of young people playing dice in the parking lot next to Henri Bourassa Park in Montreal North.

A coroner’s inquiry is hearing witnesses on the causes and circumstances of the death.

“He was not a criminal, he was just out of adolescence, he was innocent,” Villanueva said.

The other incidents cite:

Glayds Tolley, 61, a resident of the Kitigan-Zibi Algonquin reserve near Gatineau, died October 2, 2001, after she was struck by a Surete du Quebec police cruiser just before midnight on Highway 105. Police claimed they didn’t see her.

Ben Matson, 49, died May 12, 2002 in Vancouver after police were called about a parking dispute with an off-duty cop. Matson was pursued by five cops, kicked in the head, then handcuffed and kept on his stomach on the ground. He died of cardiac arrest.

Mohamed Anas Bennis, 25, was fatally shot Dec. 1, 2005 by a Montreal police officer as he was walking down Kent Ave. to his home after attending his mosque and colliding with police involved in an unrelated operation. Police claim he attacked a cop with a knife. The police Brotherhood fought against an inquest, since ordered by Quebec Superior Court.

Claudio Castagnetta, 32, died of swelling in the brain Sept. 19, 2007, one day after he was Tasered as he was being arrested for public disorder. He spent much of his incarceration banging his head against walls. His family is suing Quebec City for $772,000.

Quilem Registre, 38, died in hospital Oct. 18, 2007 after he was tasered by Montreal police officers who had stopped him for a traffic infraction. Coroner Catherine Rudel-Tessier ruled that while cocaine and alcohol might have contributed to his death, it was “difficult to believe” the taserings played no role.

Family and friends of the victims are calling for an end to police brutality and alleged impunity from prosecution, and a ban on the use of Tasers.

They also urged the creation of independent inquiry bodies to replace police at the primary investigation stage whenever someone dies in an encounter with police.

They are to hold a vigil today from 4 t 6 p.m. in front of Montreal police Brotherhood headquarters on Gilford St.

Tomorrow, a commemorative march is to begin at 12:30 p.m. at Guy St. and de Maisonneuve Blvd. and proceed along Ste. Catherine St. to Montreal police headquarters on St. Urbain St.

Similar protests are being held across the United States in what began in 1995 in New York City as a mothers’ protest against police brutality. It is now known as the North American Day to Stop Police Brutality & Repression.

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