Montreal police are investigating after an officer was filmed shoving a man in Chinatown
Montreal police have launched an internal investigation after a video began circulating on social media showing an officer violently pushing a man to the ground in an alley in Chinatown.
A police spokesperson said the service Integrity and Professional Standards Branch will oversee the investigation.
CBC News spoke to the person who videotaped the incident Thursday, filming it around lunchtime in the alley between St-Urbain and Clark streets.
Police approached people in the alley and appeared to search them, said the witness, whom CBC agreed not to identify.
Most of those searched complied, but it was when officers approached a man in a makeshift shelter built from a few pallets that things heated up, the witness said.
An officer appeared to pull a support board from the shelter in a way that caused part of the structure to fall on top of the man, the witness said. The movement appeared to be intentional, and the man then touched his head and looked at his hand as if checking for blood, the witness said.
The man became angry and shouted, but the police pushed him repeatedly and tried to chase him away, the witness said.
At one point, the witness captured the man being pushed down as he walked away. He hit a concrete barrier. In the video, it is impossible to hear what is being said between the officers and the man.
The man was in socks and “trying to retrieve his shoes”, said the witness, who was in the now destroyed pallet shed.
He could also have tried to get other personal effects because “I don’t know what else he had in that hut”, the witness said.
At one point, the man appeared to run across the alley to try to gain access to the shelter from another angle, but officers chased him away again, the witness said. An officer threatened the man with his baton, the witness said.
Sam Watts, CEO of the Welcome Hall Mission, said the video was startling, but he said in every profession there were people who behaved in unusual ways.
“We know a lot of steps have been taken to try to improve, but that doesn’t mean it’s 100% improvement,” Watts said, and this video sends the message that there are still steps to be taken. .
“This is not the way to respond to people in precarious situations. We must do better.”