Witnesses accuse Montreal police of extreme pressure throughout arrest of man, 75
A group of bystanders is accusing Montreal police of using excessive force in an incident captured on video over the weekend showing a 75-year-old man being taken away by officers.
The man in the video, Louis Rousseau, said it started with being stopped by the police for not having his dog on a leash and ended with him being pepper-sprayed.
The Montreal police (SPVM) said officers received a 911 call around 7:30 pm about a man with a dog off leash around a group of people on Saint-Laurent Blvd. during the Muralfest.
“The owner refused and was not collaborating with the police officer, and he refused to follow the police officer to receive a ticket,” said SPVM spokesperson Mariane Allaire Morin.
Officers reported that he said multiple times that he wouldn’t put his dog on a leash and he refused to identify himself but continued singing.
When the police officer tried to escort him, he threw himself on the ground.
Police say he calmed down after a police officer demonstrated a tazer by turning it on. The officer did not taze him.
He was arrested for resisting arrest and given a ticket for not having a dog on a leash. The report did not mention the use of pepper spray.
For many Plateau residents, Rousseau is a neighborhood fixture who’s known for belting out ballads and walking his cocker spaniel, Cookie.
On Sunday afternoon, police officers approached him on the corner of Pine Avenue and St-Laurent Boulevard. He said officers were trying to ticket him for having Cookie off-leash.
“She was trying to hand it to me and I just walked back. I didn’t show my hand, I didn’t want to get the ticket, so I walked back and the police circled me,” Rousseau told CTV News in an interview Monday.
Instead of taking the ticket, he says he sang.
“I kept singing. I thought it would be a good way to let them know that I wasn’t a threat,” he said of the encounter.
That’s when passers-by said the situation changed.
“The song turned into screaming and we looked out the window to see him being dragged by three police [officers],” said eyewitness Ted Stafford.
Stephanie Coleman also witnessed the incident.
“They started forcefully pulling him and at this point, this is, like, an older person,” she said. “This is really traumatic.”
The 75-year-old said he was put into a police car, then was asked to get back out, which he didn’t want to do.
Witnesses say by the end there were around a dozen officers on the scene. Rousseau said the pain of the pepper spray hit later on.
“I tried to wash but it was burning my face,” he said. “I was, for an hour, in the shower to water everything down,” he said.
He said he was shaken up by the incident as witnesses raise questions about the officers’ actions, calling it an “absolute excessive use of force, of creating a disturbance where there was none. Of creating a lot of fear and agitation,” according to Coleman.
Rousseau now has a court date in mid-August for resisting arrest.