Calls for public inquiry after Montreal riots

TORONTO [PeterPaul.ca] — Quebec authorities say their investigation into the shooting of an 18-year-old by Montreal police will be thorough and impartial as calls for a full public inquiry into the incident intensified on Tuesday.

The criminal investigation into Fredy Villanueva’s death is expected to take between eight to ten weeks and will “establish the responsibility of every person involved in the situation, whether it is a police officer or a civilian,” said Lt. François Doré at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

“The investigation will be complete, will be impartial, will be … fair with regards to the evidence and the people involved,” he said.

Provincial police will follow protocol and make sure everyone involved is questioned, including the two Montreal police officers who were the first on scene, Doré said. Authorities have to yet meet with eyewitnesses and neighbors to “verify the facts and the scenes” he said.

A prominent Montreal race relations group called for a full-blown public inquiry into Villanueva’s death. The Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) fears the provincial investigation into Villanueva’s death will not provide an appropriate explanation for the shooting.

A public inquiry would allow eyewitness testimony, analyze police tactics and training methods and explore possible socio-economic factors that may have contributed to the shooting, St. Léger said. It would also provide Villanueva’s family with a sense of justice and dispel any suspicion of a cover-up, he said.

Villanueva was shot by police late Saturday after he and a group of friends were involved in an alleged altercation with officers. Police stated they resorted to guns because they felt threatened by the large group of young people around him.

A protest held in the neighborhood the following day descended into mayhem, with dozens of city blocks seen burning. Police officers and ambulance workers were attacked and rioters looted stores, media reports said.

Police kept a close watch on the impoverished neighborhood on Monday with a heavy presence in the streets. For the most part, the atmosphere remained calm.

Quebec Public Security Minister Jacques Dupuis assured the police investigation results will be released widely once they’re available.

“The population wants to know what happened,” he said Tuesday.

“That is why I’ve asked the director of the Sureté du Québec to be in contact with the population as much as he can.”

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