The police shooting of Alain Magloire in Montreal on Monday has renewed calls for independent inquiries into deaths involving police.
“My concerns are those of the Supreme Court of Canada, again in a recent judgment — those of the coroner [André] Perreault in the Villanueva case. It just doesn’t make sense that police inquire on police,” said Quebec Human Rights Commission Chairman Jacques Frémont.
The Sûreté du Québec took over the investigation of Magloire’s shooting at the request of Quebec's Minister of Public Security, Stéphane Bergeron, almost immediately after the incident. It is standard practice that another police force investigate whenever a police weapon is discharged or a civilian is hurt or killed in the course of a police operation.
A bill was passed in 2013 at Quebec’s national assembly to amend the Police Act. Bill 12 “makes the conduct of an independent investigation mandatory in every case where a person, other than an on-duty police officer, dies, sustains a serious injury or is injured by a firearm used by a police officer during a police intervention or while the person is in police custody.”
However, the independent investigation bureau has not yet been set up.
Public Security Minister Stéphane Bergeron said Wednesday that police unions had shown some resistance to the creation of the bureau, as was expected.
Bergeron said the formation of the bureau was underway.
Possible racial profiling at play?
Frémont of the Quebec Human Rights Commission said that over the past 20 to 24 years in Montreal, around 25 people from minority groups or people with mental health issues have been killed by police.
He said Magloire’s death could have been, at least in part, related to racial profiling.
“When you are from a minority group, you stand much better chances of being shot by the police right now in our society,” Frémont said.
Magloire, 41, was shot by Montreal police officers near Montreal’s central coach bus terminal on Berri Street.
He was wielding a hammer and had previously broken some windows.
He was formerly employed in the field of molecular biology research. However, he developed a mental illness that led him to become homeless.