A Black man, who was handcuffed by Canadian police officers after he was suspected of stealing his own car, said he never feared the police until the November 3 encounter. The officers involved in the incident were also unable to later uncuff Brice Dossa because they weren’t in possession of the key, CBC reported.
In an interview with the news outlet, Dossa said that the encounter with the Montreal police officers left him feeling humiliated and discriminated against. He also said the officers involved in the incident as well as the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) had not rendered an apology to him.
“I could be attacked anywhere for no reason. I’m not a criminal,” Dossa said. “I feel traumatized. I feel I’ve been humiliated and this is a discrimination…. Everyone I spoke to said, ‘If you were white, this could have been [handled] differently. They would not have done that to you.'”
Responding to the incident, the SPVM shared a November 5 post on Twitter saying they were launching an administrative investigation. Dossa said he was confronted by the plainclothes police officers as he was attempting to enter his car after getting food at McDonald’s. The Black man said the officers then went ahead to handcuff him, adding that they did not also disclose their identities.
And after he was placed in handcuffs, Dossa said the officers informed him that his car had been reported stolen. The officers also asked him to identify himself. The officers ultimately established the vehicle actually belonged to the Black man after they scanned his details. And though the officers subsequently tried to uncuff Dossa, they were unable to because the key was unavailable. Dossa said the officers ended up getting in touch with the station for assistance, and a colleague at the scene managed to uncuff him after 15 minutes, CBC reported.
After he was freed, Dossa said he demanded that the officers provide their identification numbers. The officers were also using unmarked cars, and Dossa took photos of their license plates. But the Black man said that the officers attempted to stop him from taking the photos.
And in an effort to ensure the officers do not change their story if he opted to take legal action, Dossa said he asked a passerby to film the encounter. That video went viral after it was shared on social media.
But in the wake of the incident, the SPVM tweeted that they suspected Dossa’s car was stolen because of marks that they saw on it. The SPVM also claimed that Dossa was handcuffed because he entered his car before the officers completed the scanning process. But CBC said it independently confirmed Dossa’s car is new and does not have any such marks.
“Even if there was a mark on the vehicle, for instance, and I wanted to get in the vehicle — they could come in a professional manner, introduce themselves and ask me to be identified,” Dossa said. “I could give it to you and then you can see if it’s a stolen car or not. Not to traumatize me. Or is it because I’m Black you’re treating me this way?”
A spokesperson for Quebec’s Public Security Minister tweeted that the office is investigating the incident, adding that the footage “raises several questions.”
Dominique Anglade, who is the leader of Quebec’s Liberal Party, said that the video brought back memories of “several recent incidents” involving Montreal police and Black people in the city.
“Getting to the bottom of things is the strict minimum,” Anglade said. “Really changing things, that’s what should be done.”
Dossa also said that he had come across “many stories” of encounters involving Montreal residents and police. But the November 3 incident marked his first experience.
“This needs to be punished,” Dossa said. “The police are there to protect us. We don’t need to be scared of them.”