Montreal Family Devastated as Video Shows Deadly, Violent Interaction Between Haitian Man and Police

Pierre Coriolan’s family is asking for answers after the 58-year-old was shot and killed by police in the hallway of his apartment building last summer.

“We cannot believe that police officers treat people this way,” a note from Joanne Coriolan, read by Haitian activist Maguy Métellus, states.

“[He] was a loving and lovable man, a well-groomed man who never went out without being dressed to the nines for the circumstances.”

At a press conference Wednesday, Coriolan’s family said they hope to see a change between how police interact with people who are vulnerable.

“We are not naive. We know it is not the first time, and unfortunately it will not be the last time, such an event happens,” Joanne Coriolan writes.

“We must stop killing people.”

Coriolan’s family is suing the City of Montreal for $164,000.

“Police used abusive and excessive force towards a vulnerable man. They did not give Mr. Coriolan a chance,” court documents state.

Quebec’s Independent Investigations Bureau (BEI) was called to look into the incident, after it was discovered that Coriolan was hit by several projectiles.

“There were three strikes against Pierre Coriolan,” explained Will Prosper, activist and former police officer.

“The first was that he was a black man. … The other thing he was poor. … And the third strike is he had mental health issues.”

As a minute-by-minute recount of the incident was read out, members of Coriolan’s family had to leave the room.

“He was a proud man who faced his demons with his head held high,” Joanne Coriolan writes.

“This is how I decided to remember Pierre.”

Violent struggle

A four-minute long cellphone video taken by a neighbour shows multiple officers struggling with Coriolan in the hallway.

Police had been called to the apartment building at 950 Robillard Ave., in Montreal’s east end, on June 27, 2017.

The building is reserved for people who are at a high risk of homelessness.

Coriolan, who has lived there since 2008 but was being evicted, was apparently acting destructively, yelling and breaking things.

According to court documents, he had been suffering from psychological and psychiatric problems since September 2016.

In the video, the sound of shots and a taser can be heard as officers yell for the man to get on the ground.

Coriolan, initially yelling “I can’t,” eventually tumbles to his knees.

“One more shot,” a police officer can be heard saying, before two more shots are heard; it is not clear if these are plastic bullets or live rounds.

Coriolan falls and the officers say “let’s go, let’s go” as they try to apprehend him.

One of the officers starts hitting him with a baton and Coriolan can be heard crying out.

“He’s hurt, he’s on the floor,” an officer says into his walkie-talkie as his colleague tosses aside something Coriolan had in his hands.

“He’s not breathing,” one of the officers is heard saying.

Talking among themselves, one officer says, “You have blood on your face.”

The response: “I didn’t have a choice.” It is not clear what he is specifically referring to.

During the interaction, police used a taser gun, plastic bullets, a telescopic baton and their guns.

The video ends with a female officer calling out, “Stay in your homes,” and the person filming obliges.

Urgences-Santé was called around 7:30 p.m.

The 58-year-old was taken to hospital in cardiac arrest, where he was pronounced dead.