Quebec's police watchdog is investigating after a woman was stabbed in Quebec City just hours after police had responded to an alleged case of intimate partner violence at the home.
Quebec City police were called to Ste-Cécile Street in the Beauport borough around 9 p.m. Thursday for an altercation between a man and a woman.
According to the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI), officers arrested a 51-year-old man for assault, breaking and entering and breach of probation.
Officers then released the suspect on a promise to appear in court at a later date, with conditions prohibiting him from communicating with the victim, the BEI said in a statement.
The man then left the scene in a taxi, under police supervision.
According to the BEI, at around 11 p.m., police were called back to the same address and found a 46-year-old woman had been stabbed and seriously injured.
The woman was taken to hospital. Her injuries are not life-threatening.
Police arrested a man at the scene for attempted murder, and the BEI says it appears to be the same man they arrested and released earlier that evening. He is currently in custody, facing charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault and threatening to use a weapon while committing assault. According to court documents, he is also being accused of suffocating a victim during the week of April 24.
The case will be postponed to next week, and the prosecutor is expected to oppose his release.
A peaceful neighbourhood
Christian Langlois, who lives on the third floor of the apartment building, was watching hockey on television when he heard screams outside around 11 p.m. Thursday.
When he went on his balcony, he saw the woman who lives in one of the ground floor apartments standing barefoot on Ste-Cécile Street.
He says the victim told him not to approach because of her spouse potentially posing a danger, but to call for help.
Emergency services arrived at the scene about five minutes after he called 911, Langlois said.
Friday morning, there were traces of blood on the door of the victim's apartment.
"The last time something happened here, there was a fire around the corner and that was five years ago," he said.
André Gélinas, a retired Montreal police detective sergeant, says before releasing a suspect, officers need to consider certain criteria, including whether a suspect is likely to evade justice or repeat offences.
"Release is the first option," he said. "The role of the BEI will be to see if police followed the rules and if their decision at that moment was justified."
But Mélanie Leblanc, a co-ordinator for a women's group, the Regroupement des groupes de femmes de la Capitale-Nationale, says police intervention methods need to be improved.
"[The case] shows the limits of releasing suspects after they promise to appear in court," she said. "We see the victim isn't protected at all."
To avoid intimate partner violence from occurring, she said, police should receive special training and the education system should teach students about how to maintain healthy relationships from a young age.
"We need to ensure [victims] feel protected in their own home," she said.