Boxer Custio Clayton says he was racially profiled by Montreal police

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Boxer Custio Clayton says he was racially profiled by Montreal police

Former Canadian Olympic boxer Custio Clayton says he was racially profiled — detained without reason, handcuffed and arrested on suspicion of being a drug dealer by Montreal police on Tuesday night.

The arresting officer later released him and apologized, but still gave him a ticket.

Clayton, who is black, told Radio-Canada he was just five minutes away from his home in Montreal after driving from a night of training in Cornwall, Ont., in preparation for a fight next week, when he was pulled over by a police officer.

Clayton is a six-time Canadian amateur welterweight champion who is undefeated in his first 10 professional bouts.

He said the whole experience was shocking and humiliating.

"I always stayed out of trouble, and no matter how hard I try, someone will always try to accuse you of being something you're not," said the 29-year-old boxer, who's originally from Dartmouth, N.S.

"It's hard enough being black for me," he said. "All my life, I've always tried doing the right thing — like by wanting to pursue my dream of becoming a professional world champion."

No reason given for being stopped

In an interview with CBC, the professional boxer alleged that when he was pulled over, the officer asked him to roll down his window and provide the registration papers of the rental vehicle he was driving.

Clayton said he asked her repeatedly why he was being pulled over, but was not given a reason, and he eventually handed over the car's registration papers.

"She's like, 'When a police officer asks you for the papers, you give them to them.'"

"I'm like, 'Yeah, but also, if I ask what I did wrong, you're supposed to tell me,'" he said.

Clayton said the officer then asked him why he was driving a rental vehicle, and he explained that he had recently been in an accident, and his own car was being repaired.

Clayton said the officer was annoyed when he couldn't tell her how long he expected to keep the rental car or the exact location of the company from which he'd leased the vehicle.

"Everything she said was all attitude," said Clayton. "She left, she took my paper and came back, and she had me in the car for about an hour, just sitting in the car."

He said he hadn't realized at that point the registration papers provided by the rental company were the documents for another vehicle.

Placed under arrest, handcuffed

When the officer came back, Clayton said he was told to roll down the window and shut off the engine. He said he tried to ask if there was a problem, and he was ordered to hand over the keys and step out of the vehicle.

That's when Clayton was arrested, and he said the officer told him she believed he had drugs in the car.

"I'm like, 'You're placing me under arrest?' She said, 'Yeah, I'm placing you under arrest for suspicions of being a drug dealer and having drugs in the car,'" recalled Clayton.

Apology — and a $63 ticket

Clayton said he was handcuffed and placed in the police cruiser while the officer and her colleague searched his car. Clayton said they didn't find any drugs, and after the search, the officer apologized for her mistake.

"She came back and she's like, 'I've been a cop for 20 years and every time I believe that someone had drugs and we searched, we always found it,'" Clayton said.

Clayton said the officer admitted she had been wrong, but still handed him a $63 ticket for having the incorrect registration papers for the rental car.

Montreal police told Radio-Canada that the police service is aware of the incident and that it is taking the steps to determine what happened.

Douggy Berneche, Clayton's manager, said he plans to consult with Clayton's inner circle, and then Clayton will decide whether to file a formal complaint.

Montreal's police force has been dogged by accusations of racial discrimination for years.

A 2011 report by Quebec Human Rights Commission found that ethnic minorities in Quebec are subject to "police surveillance that is targeted and disproportionate."

Former chief Marc Parent acknowledged in 2014 that racial profiling was an ongoing issue within his department.

"We do have a racial profiling problem… It's not the majority, but we have to work on that every day," Parent said at the time.