Man injured in violent altercation with Quebec City police seeks nearly $400,000 in damages

·3 min read
Surveillance footage from Oct. 17 shows a man being shoved through a doorway by officers and hitting his head on a wall. The man is now seeking compensation for physical and psychological damages. (District Saint-Joseph - image credit)
Surveillance footage from Oct. 17 shows a man being shoved through a doorway by officers and hitting his head on a wall. The man is now seeking compensation for physical and psychological damages. (District Saint-Joseph - image credit)

A man at the centre of a violent altercation with Quebec City police last fall is seeking nearly $400,000 total in damages from both the city and an officer involved.

Mathieu Gamache's lawyer says his client's life has been turned upside down since police forcibly detained him for not following public health measures at a restaurant in the city's Saint-Roch neighbourhood on Oct. 17. Gamache had not been wearing a mask inside the establishment.

Surveillance footage from that night shows a Service de Police de la Ville de Québec (SPVQ) officer shoving Gamache through a doorway, resulting in him hitting his head on a wall.

In a formal notice obtained by Radio-Canada, Gamache says he has not been the same man since the arrest.

The 30-year-old father of two says the altercation left him with a concussion, with symptoms that continue to this day.

Radio-Canada
Radio-Canada

He says he's been unable to hold down a job in the computer industry, where he built his career, due to a variety of symptoms, including memory loss and difficulty concentrating. Gamache says he also had to give up a research project that would have provided him with a significant salary increase.

The notice is dated March 22, 2022. In an interview with Radio-Canada, Gamache's lawyer, François-David Bernier, explains that his client initially wanted to remain anonymous, but after seeing "the extent of the injustice suffered," he wanted to denounce the situation publicly.

"That's why he's coming out today, so that something can be done and especially so that it doesn't happen to other people, an innocent person who could be assaulted by the system, as in this case," Bernier said.

Officer involved in 2 violent interventions

The SPVQ officer who pushed Gamache was involved in another controversial intervention a month later.

In a video shot on Grande Allée Street on Nov. 20, the officer is heard swearing and threatening to pepper-spray a man before shoving him into a police car.

Videos of the two separate altercations led to the opening of two investigations by the police service's professional standards unit.

Following an intervention by Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault, the two cases were handed over to Quebec's police watchdog, the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI), on Dec. 6.

The BEI report was forwarded to the office of Quebec's Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP) in early July. The DPCP has not yet indicated whether criminal charges will be laid against the officer in question.

Civil suit if nothing is done

The officer is mentioned by name in the formal notice sent by Gamache and his defenders, as is the City of Quebec.

Gamache and his spouse are seeking a total of $396,225 in damages. The document demands that the officer personally pay $30,000 into a trust account.

The City of Quebec and the officer have not responded to the notice. If nothing is done, Bernier said they'll consider filing an application to institute proceedings — the first step toward filing a civil suit.

The lawyer believes that the City of Quebec should "take charge" of the file and compensate Gamache, much like the City of Montreal did with Mamadi Fara Camara, a Black Montreal student who was wrongfully arrested and detained by Montreal police for six days last year.

The SPVQ declined to comment on the case. It confirms that the officer involved in the two investigations is still assigned to administrative duties.