According to CNN news partner CBC, a Canadian legislator has called for an investigation and a community has demanded answers after video emerged of a Montreal police officer kneeling on the neck of a Black 14-year-old.
According to the CBC, Frantz Benjamin, a member of Quebec’s National Assembly, several constituents called him and said the video evokes “collective trauma,” reminding them of George Floyd’s death by a Minneapolis police officer’s knee on his neck.
Officers were responding to a call from Georges Vanier Secondary School on June 10 about a fight involving more than a dozen students from various schools, according to a spokesperson for the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM). Two minors have been charged with carrying weapons, according to police, and an investigation is underway.
“If the use of force is not justified, the administration will take the required actions,” said SPVM spokesperson Insp. David Shane to Radio-Canada.
Shane said the officer who used the knee technique is still on the job while the incident, which was captured on video by a passerby, is investigated.
The mother of the teen in the video, who has not been identified because he is a minor, says she was perplexed as to why officers would tie her son’s neck to the ground.
She enquired, “Is it because my son is Black?” “It’s not because we’re Black that we have to experience those kind of things. We’re humans. Poor child,” she told the CBC.
Radio-Canada obtained video of the incident, which shows about a minute and a half of the arrest.
According to CBC, it does not show what led up to the intervention, and it starts and ends with officers restraining the teen.
Two officers can be seen kneeling on the suspect at the start of the video, one on the teenager’s lower back and the other on his neck and face, according to CBC. The adolescent does not appear to be moving or speaking.
The two officers in the video rise after about 15 seconds, and the officer who had his knee on the teen’s neck adjusts his position and kneels again with both legs on the teen’s neck and back, where he stays for about 40 seconds, according to the video.
The officer searches a bag and hands an object to his colleague while pinning the teen. The teen was arrested, according to the CBC, for possessing a stun gun.
According to Insp. Shane, the video does not tell the entire story.
Two teenagers refused to identify themselves to officers before the camera started recording, Shane told CBC. He also claims that during a search, bear repellent was discovered in his possession.
According to Shane, when police discovered the repellent, the second teen appeared panicked, reached for something in his bag, and pushed officers away. According to the CBC, this is when police begin to restrain him and search for a weapon.
This video does not show the police interaction with the other suspect.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante has also requested clarification from the SPVM, and Premier François Legault has also commented on the incident, saying he “didn’t like seeing this photo.”
“I’ve asked that we check with the SPVM [to see] why this happened, and I would like for it to not happen again,” Legault said during a news conference on Friday, according to CBC.
The teen’s mother said her son is now afraid to leave the house, and she has sought assistance from the Maison D’Haiti, a Haitian cultural non-profit.
The SPVM does not prohibit kneeling on a suspect’s neck, but it must be done quickly to force a suspect to surrender, according to Stéphane Wall, a former sergeant and training instructor.
The knee should be moved closer to the shoulders once the suspect is handcuffed, according to Wall.