The lawyer, Francis Lacroix, Florence Boucher Cossette
January 9, 2020-4: 00 am
A rain of fines “disproportionate” to a man in the”state mental disturbed”
EXCLUSIVE / police in Quebec have recovered from a single shot to more than $ 700 in traffic tickets to a man whose they have found the”mental state disturbed” during a speech routine which made it all the way to the slaps and cuffs.
The Sun has obtained a copy of the report of the Service de police de la Ville de Québec (SPVQ), which shows the escalation between the two policemen and Francis Lacroix, a 25-year-old, who suffers from a disorder of the schizotypal personality disorder, characterized, among others, by fears of persecution. The SPVQ has preferred not to comment on this specific case, because the judicial procedures are still ongoing.
Counsel for Mr. Lacroix, Florence Boucher Cossette, denounces the fines are “disproportionate” received by his client. She believes that it is a “typical case” where a person who suffers from a mental health problem and is punished more severely because it reacts abnormally to the intervention of the police.
The allegations made against Francis Lacroix date back to July 12. To 2h50, the patrol Luc Turcotte and Vincent Germain stop their car at a red light at the corner of avenues Jeanne-Mance and Eugène-Lamontagne, in Limoilou.
When the light goes green, the constable Germain honks, the driver of the Hyundai Accent that had waited three or four seconds before engaging. The police notice also that the exhaust system of the car is “particularly noisy”.
A little further on Eugène-Lamontagne, the driver of the Hyundai operates its hazard lights and stops. The driver of the patrol car pull to the side of the car, Francis Lacroix, and asks him if everything is going well. Mr. Lacroix replied that “yes” and said that he seeks the street [of] Verdun.
The agent Turcotte is also noted that the vehicle does not covers bumper before. The patrol boat then wants to give simple warnings to the driver (this is what he wrote in his report). But the intervention takes an unexpected turn when the driver refused to identify himself despite numerous requests from the patrol boat.
The police officer opens the door and asks Francis Lacroix, get out of the vehicle. He informs him that if he does not provide his name, he will be arrested for obstructing police officers.
The policeman detaches himself the belt and pulls the conductor by the arm. Then, the latter eventually agreed to exit the vehicle. The agent Turcotte place his hands on the vehicle, and search and ask again for his name. Francis Lacroix still refuses. The police officer informs him that he is under arrest and tries to get the right arm of the man behind his back while the officer Germain takes care of the left arm.
Francis Lacroix resists, but does not take to the police. The agent Turcotte tries to create a diversion with a slap in the face and managed to pass the hand behind the back. The police struggle with him against the vehicle and the agent-Germain, the slap in the face to turn. The patrol managed to bring it to the ground and handcuffed.
They searched him again in the police vehicle and found a wallet with a driving licence, but no proof of registration or insurance. “At first glance, the driver had no reason not to want to provide his identity,” notes the constable Turcotte in his report.
The police officer asks Francis Lacroix if he has consumed. He responds : “Why I would have consumed?” And the agent Turcotte made another observation : “as the intervention moves forward, I can see that his state seems to be of a medical problem, or mental health.” Francis Lacroix mentions that he has a diagnosis of disorder of schizotypal personality disorder.
About half an hour after the start of the intervention, the agent Turcotte called his lieutenant to discuss the result of the intervention. He informs her that “everything seems to be connected to a mental health problem non-medicated”. The police then take the decision to call the organization PECH [the Programme of clinical supervision and accommodation], with which the police of Quebec is working on a regular basis for mental health cases.
On the Hyundai Accent, the police found three “minor defects” — in addition to the muffler noisy, and the lack of covers bumper, the emergency brake no longer works. In addition, they believe that Francis Lacroix is not in a state to drive his car. “Mr. Lacroix shaking and crying. He seems disoriented, frightened,” says the constable Turcotte. The Hyundai is being towed.
Francis Lacroix is then “up and down“, describes the police officer. “At times, he cries, at other times it has the fixed stare and does not respond to any question.” Mr. Lacroix is taken to the police station Victoria park, handcuffed in the back. “I asked him if he was okay, if he is in pain, but he does not answer, and sobs,” notes the officer Turcotte.
A speaker from PECH arrives at the police station Victoria park. Francis Lacroix is démenotté. Fifteen minutes before coming out of the police station, he received in the hands of four tickets : one for obstructing the work of police officers (486 $), one for his exhaust system non-compliant (108 $), and one for not having had his certificate of registration (63 $) and one for not having proof of insurance (63 $). In total, the amount of the fines amounted to $ 720.
At the beginning of his report, the officer Turcotte summarizes the event in a few words : “It is a vehicle check and a mental state disturbed.” According to the lawyer, Francis Lacroix, Florence Boucher Cossette, the police would have had to take that into account and do not give as much tickets.
“It seems to me that it is much exaggerated and inappropriate in the circumstances”, said Me Butcher Cossette. “I understand that the individual must identify himself. But the police must still exercise their judgment.”
“It is wrong to say that the only thing to do is to give your findings, adds the lawyer. At the beginning, the police did not choose this option. They decide to give warnings.”
Me Butcher Cossette argues that the case of Mr. Lacroix is far from isolated. On several occasions, she is said to have defended clients with mental health problems who had received a rain of fines because they had been struggling to deal with the police.
“People who have mental health problems are not exempt from the law,” nuance-t-elle. But unlike the ” people “neurotypical” who do not have these problems, they are more likely to have difficulty responding to the orders, she said. “They’re going to arouse anger and the annoyance of the police and they will end up with four findings of infringement, while an individual who is said to have replied to the satisfaction of the police officers at the beginning of the intervention may not have had any finding of a violation”, said Me Butcher Cossette.
The director-general of PECH, Benedict points out the impact of the litigiousness in people who have mental health disorders. “In the fine effects are very difficult for the people we accompany. First, they have difficulty repaying. And it creates a vicious circle. This stress-that ends by strengthening the symptoms that people can live and they can fall apart,” he says.
Francis Lacroix has pleaded not guilty to the four observations of the offence that it has received. The result of the judicial proceedings will take place on February 27 at the municipal court of Québec.
THE POLICE OF QUEBEC, HAS THE “DUTY To ACT”
The police are sensitive to the reality of people struggling with mental health issues, but they must ensure that their vehicles do not represent a danger to them or to the citizens, argues the police of Quebec.
As the legal proceedings against Francis Lacroix are not completed, the Service de police de la Ville de Québec (SPVQ) did not want to respond directly to the output of the lawyer Florence Boucher Cossette.
The SPVQ defends himself, however, lack sensitivity, arguing that its police officers occur about 15 times per day with people who have mental health problems or live in a situation of homelessness.
By virtue of their discretionary powers, police officers have the choice to submit or not a ticket depending on the circumstances, such as the mental state of the person concerned, it indicates Étienne Doyon, a spokesperson for the SPVQ.
“The ability of the offender to acknowledge the crime and his degree of awareness vis-à-vis the latter could, among other things, be a factor in the decision-making of policemen”, says Mr. Doyon.
If it finds a mechanical failure on a car that could put in danger the security of the citizen himself or other road users, “the police officer has the duty to act”, says Mr. Pelletier. He has the choice to give a verbal warning or to immediately give a report of infraction.
In regards to the vehicle of Francis Lacroix, it was “minor defects”. The police officers wanted to give him a verbal warning and put it at the Centre de renseignements policiers du Québec. But over the course of the intervention, they decided to give him four tickets.
Police officers also have the option to submit a “notice of audit of a road vehicle” that gives the owner a period of 48 hours to submit his vehicle to a mechanical inspection. The driver must provide proof to a peace officer that he has made this step. If it doesn’t meet the deadline, the police will consider that it is an offence.