Ethics commission decision

Police used excessive force in arresting Sikh truck driver

By Robert Frank

The police ethics commission has ruled that Montreal Police Sgt. Patrice Bigras used greater force than necessary when he arrested truck driver Narinder Singh Minhas in Pointe Claire, Nov. 23, 2011.

Minhas’ 22-wheel tractor-trailer rig was one of several vehicles that got stuck that morning when a blizzard and freezing rain blanketed the Sources Boulevard overpass at Highway 20 in heavy snow and ice.

Minhas said that he was asking his dispatcher in Saskatchewan to authorize his truck to be towed when Sgt. Bigras arrested him, badly injuring his left shoulder and elbow. He added that he was compensated by the Quebec crime victims fund for the three months of work that he lost due to the injury.

Although the police ethics commission found that Sgt. Bigras used excessive force when he made the arrest, it absolved him of two other charges that he used force unlawfully and took action based on race, colour, ethnic or national origin.

“As he took me to the police car, he punched me in the back of my head and knocked off my turban.” Minhas told The Suburban in an interview last year, a claim that “Sgt. Bigras vigorously denied”, according to the police ethics commission decision. It cited testimony by Pointe Claire Public Security inspector Michel Pierre Bélanger that the turban was instead blown away “by a gust of wind”.

Sgt. Bigras charged Minhas with obstructing a police officer in the course of his duty, a criminal offence. However, Crown prosecutor Mercier Lamarche refused to accept the charges.

At that point, Minhas thought that was the end of his ordeal, but Sgt. Bigras took the unusual step of charging Minhas again with the same offence. This time, Sgt. Bigras added another charge of criminal mischief to his allegations against Minhas, “for denying the legitimate use of a good, namely Sources Boulevard.”

The new charges against Minhas are due to be heard in court in September.
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