Quebec's human rights commission is recommending a suburb south of Montreal pay four members of a black family $86,000 and implement anti-discrimination training for its police officers following an alleged incident of racial profiling.
The family members had filed complaints against the city of Longueuil and two of its police officers, alleging they were mistreated during a police intervention in Nov. 2013.
The commission's written decision alleges that one of the two officers used "excessive and unjustified force" in stopping the then-17 and 19-year-old complainants as they walked away from a bus station in Brossard, on Montreal's South Shore.
"They grabbed them, threw them against the police car, handcuffed and searched them, before even informing them of the reason for intercepting them," reads a summary of facts presented in the commission's decision.
The complainants said they were the only black people who were present, and that others who behaved in a similar manner were not treated the same way.
The documents suggest the two police officers decided to stop the teens because they were standing apart from the crowd and because the bus stop is a known drug trafficking location.
The city of Longueuil did not immediately respond for a request for comment on the claims, none of which have been proven in court.
The commission also suggested compensation for the 17-year-old's mother and her partner, who complained that the two officers entered their home without permission and treated them disrespectfully following the interaction with the teens.
The mother, Dominique Jacobs, said she still remembers when the police banged on her door at 1:30 a.m., demanding her son's identification.
She said the officers swore when she asked why her son was arrested, and later laughed at her partner when he asked for their badge numbers.
Jacobs said the officers eventually told her that her son had been stopped for jaywalking.
"We were treated disrespectfully. I was treated disrespectfully, not just because I'm black but maybe because I'm a woman too," Jacobs said in a phone interview. "It was disgusting."
In all four complaints, the commission found there was enough evidence of racial discrimination to recommend compensation, and to follow that up with legal action if the resolution is unsatisfactory.
It recommended compensation of $29,000 for each of the two teens and $14,000 for Jacobs and her now ex-boyfriend.
It also suggested the force adopt measures to fight discrimination, including more training for officers and gathering data on the racial background of people who are arrested.
Because of a deadline for filing suit, the commission decided to immediately submit the case to the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal, a court body that has the power to order a defendant to pay compensation, according to the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations.
While she'd like to win her case, Jacobs said she's hoping above all that it leads to better training for police officers in order to combat discrimination and racial bias.
"I want them to learn, to understand, to be taught, and that's really what I'm hoping for," she said.