MONTREAL — A former Montreal police officer whose heavy-handed arrest of a citizen while she was still on the force led to an assault charge was given a one-year suspended sentence Thursday.
Stefanie Trudeau, 44, was also ordered to do 60 hours of community work as Quebec court Judge Daniel Bedard stated that giving her an absolute discharge would not be in the public interest.
Trudeau was found guilty earlier this year of assaulting Serge Lavoie as she arrested him in 2012. She faced a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Asked by Bedard if she had anything to say before hearing her sentence, Trudeau described the case as unfair.
Her lawyer, Jean-Pierre Rancourt, said the sentence did not surprise him.
"I'm not surprised because Tuesday when we made our (case) before the judge, he started to argue with me and I knew he (would not) agree with a discharge, conditional or unconditional," he said.
During the October 2012 incident, Trudeau chased Lavoie up the stairs of an apartment building after he tried to film her arresting a friend of his.
Trudeau held Lavoie in a chokehold on multiple occasions before proceeding to his arrest for obstructing justice.
Bedard said Trudeau used excessive force and called her actions "brutal and dangerous." He added there was no reason for such conduct as Lavoie was neither armed nor violent.
Rancourt said he believes Trudeau was entitled to arrest Lavoie and was not the instigator, as the judge stated multiple times.
"She had the right to ask this person to identify himself because he was committing an infraction to the municipal code," said Rancourt, who is appealing the verdict and the sentence.
Trudeau, who retired from the Montreal force last October, was also suspended by Quebec's police ethics committee on March 1 for an unrelated 2012 incident when she grabbed a man's headphones and threw them on the ground.
Although she had already retired from the Montreal police department, the sanction means she can't work as a peace officer until at least June 1.
Trudeau first became known during the 2012 student protests after a video circulated on social media showing her pepper-spraying demonstrators.