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Montreal Police Wrongfully Accuse Black Man of Stealing His Own Car Because of Scratches on the Keyhole, Then Tried to Minimize His Anger: ‘Calm Down … You Weren’t Hurt’

Montreal police officers are facing public outrage after erroneously detaining a Black man they believed stole a car that turned out to be his. The man is now saying how “humiliated” he felt while in law enforcement’s custody, believing he was discriminated against because of the color of his skin.

On Thursday, Nov. 3, officers approached him and accused him of stealing a car that was legally registered to him. After erroneously handcuffing the man, the cops realized they did not have the key to the shackles.

Montreal Police Wrongfully Accuse Black Man of Stealing His Own Car Because of Scratches on the Keyhole, Then Tried to Minimize His Anger: 'Calm Down ... You Weren't Hurt'
Brice Dossa surrounded by plainclothes officers (Screengrab Surveillance Footage)

Footage of Brice Dossa being arrested recently went viral on social media, further embarrassing the young man who wants the world to know he is “not a criminal,” the CBC reported.

Dossa was walking to his car in a Montreal parking lot when the plainclothes officer approached and apprehended him. The officers said they thought the car was stolen, not in response to a missing vehicle, but because they saw marks around the keyhole on its door.

Sources who reviewed the man’s car confirmed it is a new vehicle and has no marks on it.

In an interview with CTV News, Dossa shared, “I saw a gentleman come from behind, pulling my right hand at the back. [I said], ‘What’s going on here?’ The police did not introduce themselves and say ‘I’m police, I’m here for this and that. Give me the papers of the vehicle.’ They didn’t ask anything. They just harassed me, aggressively, handcuffed me, without even telling me what is happening.”

In a separate interview, Dossa said, “I could be attacked anywhere for no reason. I’m not a criminal. I feel traumatized. I feel I’ve been humiliated and this is discrimination… Everyone I spoke to said, ‘If you were white, this could have been [handled] differently. They would not have done that to you.’ “

Dossa moved to the country three years ago from Benin and works in the hospital as an orderly. He believes race played a huge role in the altercation, saying in the video as they held him in cuffs, “It’s my car; why am I being handcuffed? It’s a lack of respect. Is it because I am Black?”

The video captures a plainclothes officer tells him, “Calm down … what do you want me to do? Are you injured? You’re not even injured, I didn’t even hit you,” according to CultMtl.com, which translated the conversation.

After realizing they were wrong, Dossa asked them, “Please remove the handcuffs; they are hurting me.” They could not. No one had the key.

“You handcuff someone, and you don’t even have the keys to release him?” Dossa said, incredulously. “What would you have done if there was an emergency?”

The police officer in the footage leans against the car and turns his attention from his alleged suspect, and to a bystander filming.

“Stop filming,” he says to the individual recording on his phone. “There’s no need to film, there are cameras everywhere in the parking lot.” The officer seems to be referencing police bodycams.

Then he scoffs, “I don’t arrest people for the fun of it.”

Dossa rebukes him, “You should have verified that I was the car’s owner before. You should do your jobs!”

In a condescending tone, the officer dismisses his trauma and says, “It’s over, it’s over, enough…Sir, sir, sir… calm down — you weren’t hurt.” 

After a while, new officers arrived and they also encouraged Dossa to “calm down.”

“If I were a suspect, I would have fled,” the man says. “I work in health care, I’m not a criminal. This is humiliating.”

As a result of the incident, the man also said he is now afraid of the police, because “they can do anything,” and is asking for an apology. “No one said sorry to me. No one,” said Dossa, who added that he has filed a complaint with law enforcement. He is also considering legal action.  

Community stakeholder Alain Babineau from the Red Coalition said, “We need grounds … reasonable suspicion to arrest somebody.”

“Did they have any?” the activist asked.

Montreal police service (SPVM) put out a tweet with wording that stuck to their story, including that the car’s lock showed “typical and obvious attempted theft marks,” prompting officers to investigate.

“Before they could finish their checks, a citizen walked up to it to take possession of it,” another Tweet reads.

“It was at this time that he was temporarily detained for investigation by the two police officers. The citizen was released unconditionally and without charge, once the checks were completed.”       

The Quebec public security minister’s office and the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) are opening an administrative investigation. Quebec’s public safety minister François Bonnardel has also commented and said, “This cannot be [swept] under the carpet.”

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