Montreal Police Officers Still Continue To Kill — With Impunity
By N Oji Mzilikazi
24 November 2014
On November 11, 1987, Constable Allan Gosset shot and killed 19-year-old Anthony Griffin in the parking lot of Station 15 police station— upon his fleeing the police cruiser. The Black teen was unarmed.
As informed by the Augustus v. Gosset court transcript, Griffin was ordered to stop by Constable Gosset, and threatened with being shot. “Anthony immediately stopped and turned to face the respondent Gosset, shifting his weight from foot to foot; he did not stand perfectly still…At that instant, a gunshot hit Anthony in the head.”
Gosset blamed his killing of Griffin on the accidental firing of his gun. Expert testimony proved otherwise. As reported in the April 24, 1988, Toronto Star, The hammer of Gosset’s .38-calibre Smith and Wesson Police Special was tested — cocked “1,115 times to see if it might slip back into place by itself. The gun stayed cocked every time.”
Although Quebec Superior Court Justice Derek Guthrie stated, “such a use of force [by Gosset] was neither necessary nor justified in the circumstance,”Gosset was acquitted of manslaughter in the death of Anthony Griffin, and found not guilty of racial discrimination.
Fast forward to February 13, 2014: A Sûreté du Québec (SQ) police officer in an unmarked black Camry and travelling at 122 km/h in a 50 km/h zone, crashed into the Kia sedan of Mike Belance who was taking his 10-year-old (step) daughter and 5-year-old son to school. “The police car did not have any lights flashing or siren blasting, and was not responding to an emergency.”
The impact drove Mr. Belance’s vehicle several metres off the road. Four days later, five-year-old Nicolas Thorne-Belance died from his injuries.
Although Quebec Criminal Code states it’s an offence for one to operate a motor vehicle in a manner that is dangerous to the public, and should the infraction cause the death of any other person, the offender is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment, Quebec’s Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DCPC) released a statement saying that based upon “all the facts — all the evidence,” it would not press charges against the officer involved in the fatal car crash.
To add insult to injury, and as if damn-ass is printed on John Public’s forehead, DCPC spokesman René Verret stated, “The Crown prosecutors knew the officers had important work to do, and for them it was necessary to go at a certain speed.”
What important work?The officers weren’t tailing a serial killer, or someone suspected of murder, or an armed and violent offender. They were tailing a non-violent person; an individual suspected of “corruption, breach of trust and illegal political party financing.” What’s more, three other unmarked police vehicles were tailing the suspect as well.
Given the modus operandi of the police, if the driver in question had lost sight of the suspect’s vehicle, the others most certainly would have him in sight. Plus the officers involved in the operation knew the suspect’s name, address, the vehicle he was driving, and have access to surveillance cameras that allow them to pick up his trail. There was simply no reason for the officer to speed; drive more than twice the speed limit to keep the suspect in sight.
The officer responsible for the death of Nicolas Thorne-Belance ought to have been charged with at least criminal negligence causing death.
Montreal Police Constable Marc St-Germain was sentenced to two years in prison for the 1994 crash of an unmarked SQ cruise that killed four fellow officers.
St-Germain, a breathalyser-test instructor and his buddies were out celebrating the end of a 10-day breathalyser-machine course. St-Germain was reported to have had three beers and five glasses of wine.
The jury found St-Germain negligent, but not drunk. (Can you imagine the shame and disrepute it would bring to the police force if its breathalyser-test instructor was deemed drunk?) As light as the sentence handed down to St-Germain was, at least justice appeared to be served.
Justice cries out for Nicolas Thorne-Belance, but the DCPC chose to be deliberately blind.
Since the Crown refused to prosecute the officer, the Crown has made it clear that Black life is of no value. Nicolas Thorne-Belance life and the possibility of what he might have achieved or could’ve been do not matter. Like with the killing of Anthony Griffin at the hands of a police officer, Black lives do not matter.
Despite police propaganda of violent felons lying in wait to take a policeman’s life, a law enforcement officer has a higher chance of losing his/her life to a traffic related incident than to firearms — and that applies equally to Canada and America.
If you don’t believe me, feel free to peruse the American National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund website and the Canadian Police & Peace Officers Memorial Ribbon Society website.
Since traffic-related incidents kill more police officers, speeding is extremely dangerous for police officers (as well as the citizenry). Verret’s justification of the officer breaking the speed limit via “certain speed” is necessary (to pursue a non-dangerous suspect) is disingenuous to say the least.
The deaths of 19-year-old Anthony Griffin and 5-year-old Nicolas Thorne-Belance beg the question, “What does it takes to convict a white police officer that kills an unarmed Black person or an innocent Black child?
Sadly, there was no mobilisation from Montreal’s English speaking Black and West Indian community over this travesty of justice. Not a peep of activism from its well-known community leaders and community activists. Not a show of solidarity and support to the family of Nicolas Thorne-Belance… Maybe they are waiting for City Councillor Martin Rotrand and CDN-NDG Borough Mayor Russell Copeman to lead the charge.
Nicolas Thorne-Belance life matters. Black lives matter. The police should not be allowed to kill the innocent and those who were not guilty of wrong-doing at the time of their death — with impunity.