Man who died after being injured in Montreal jail was in 'illegal' detention

MONTREAL — Family, friends and community members gathered Friday evening to mourn and remember a 21-year-old man who died in hospital after being injured inside a Montreal jail on Christmas Eve.

Nicous D'Andre Spring was being illegally detained at the detention centre known as Bordeaux jail, according to Quebec's Public Security Department.

Around 150 people showed up to the candlelight vigil in Benny Park in Montreal's Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighbourhood, a place where D'Andre Spring would hang out, said his childhood friend Brandon Ragain.

Ragain said the fact D'Andre Spring was detained illegally makes his death harder to deal with.

"This is someone I grew up with. It's hard for me, but his mother is over there crying her eyes out, and that is something that is never going to change," he said in an interview before the vigil. "She is always going to feel this for the rest of her life."

With music playing as a tribute to the aspiring rapper, people held candles in the air and cried out, some with tears streaming down their faces.

Some mourners carried signs with messages such as "We love you, Nicous" and "(Notre-Dame-de-Grâce) NDG loves you."

Ragain described D'Andre Spring as a "gentle giant" who would help strangers in need. He said he was a soft-spoken young man chasing his dream.

Ragain talked about Quebec Premier François Legault, who on multiple occasions has denied there is systemic racism in the province.

"We already knew that there was injustice in Quebec going on with the system, but Legault is saying it is not a real thing, but you can see how it is tearing down communities here," he said.

Quebec's Public Security Department has said D'Andre Spring should have been released on Dec. 23 after he appeared virtually in court earlier that day.

One jail guard has been suspended in relation to his death, which is being investigated by provincial police and the coroner's office.

Marie-Josée Montminy, a spokeswoman for the department, has said it will also conduct an investigation into D'Andre Spring's death and illegal detention.

Neither the police nor the government has released details about what happened inside the jail that led to his death.

"I want all the light to be shed on these events," said Public Security Minister François Bonnardel on Twitter Thursday.

"To do this, several investigations are underway. The mistakes made will have to be assumed and answered."

D'Andre Spring appeared in court on Dec. 23 on charges of assaulting a peace officer, criminal harassment and possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose. He was also facing two counts of failing to comply with a condition of release. He had pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

He was also charged several times in 2021 with failing to comply with a condition of release, as well as on one count of assaulting a police officer. In 2020, he was charged with robbery, assault with a weapon and assault causing bodily harm.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 30, 2022.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Jacob Serebrin and Marisela Amador, The Canadian Press