A Montreal man is suing the city’s police force and two of its officers for $125,000 after being handcuffed and detained by officers who suspected he had stolen his own car.
Brice Dossa, a 44-year-old Montrealer originally from Benin, is seeking damages from the city and from the officers named in the lawsuit filed Tuesday.
Dossa, who is Black, alleges he was the victim of racial profiling, illegal arrest and detention and excessive force during an incident he describes as humiliating.
It took place Nov. 3 in the parking lot of a Montreal shopping centre, and a video of the arrest was widely shared on social media.
In the video, Dossa can be seen angrily asking the plainclothes officers why they handcuffed him before verifying whether the vehicle belonged to him and asking whether it was because he is Black.
The court filing notes he had to wait handcuffed after he had been cleared of suspicion because the officers did not have the keys and had to call for colleagues to bring a set.
Montreal police would not comment on Wednesday since the matter is before the courts, but last November they addressed the video of Dossa in a series of tweets.
The tweets said two car theft investigators found an unoccupied Honda SUV in a mall parking lot that allegedly had damage around one of its locks consistent with an attempted theft. The citizen who came to take possession was briefly detained for “investigative purposes” before being released unconditionally, the tweets said.
In the filing, Dossa denies there were any marks on the vehicle, a 2021 Honda CRV.
Dossa worked as an orderly and an Uber driver and says he has not been able to work since the incident due to post-traumatic stress disorder. He has no family in Quebec, where he has permanent resident status. The court document says he had to return to Benin in February for emotional support from his parents.
Dossa’s lawyer, Malyka Jean-Baptiste, said in an interview her client never received an apology from the police. He has also filed a complaint with the police ethics commission.
—Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press