NEWS
06/13/2014 07:27 EDT | Updated 08/13/2014 05:59 EDT

School staff accuse Montreal police of excessive force

A Montreal police officer is being accused of using excessive force during an altercation with two staff members of a Plateau Mont-Royal elementary school who say they were both put in handcuffs and one was pepper-sprayed.

Carl Cadieux, the janitor at École au Pied-de-la-Montagne, says the incident began with the officer running a red light in front of the school at the corner of Pine Avenue and Henri-Julien Avenue without turning on his flashing lights.

Cadieux says there were children waiting to cross at the intersection, and he yelled out for the officer to be more careful.

The officer then allegedly returned to confront Cadieux, who says he was handcuffed and roughly pressed up against the squad car in the process.

Teacher Nadia Lessard then intervened and told the officer to let Cadieux go.

“[Cadieux] was yelling out because it hurt, and so I said, ‘Let him go’ louder and touched the officer’s arm,” she told CBC News.

At that point, the officer turned on Lessard, who said he put his hand to her throat and pepper-sprayed her in the face.

“He pepper-sprayed me not even two inches from my face and after then I couldn’t see anything,” she said.

Lessard said she was then handcuffed and put in another squad car that had arrived on the scene.

She said the pepper-spray was painful, and she couldn’t open her eyes for nearly an hour afterwards.

The teacher is now facing charges of obstructing justice. Cadieux was not charged.

Lessard said all of this happened in front of students, some of whom were frightened and crying.

Montreal police did not comment on the allegations when approached by CBC News Thursday evening.

Both Lessard and Cadieux said they will be filing an official complaint with the police ethics committee today.