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Police shooting of Jewish man investigated in Quebec

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(2010 Legal Observers/flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0)

On June 15, 2017, 27-year-old Noam Cohen died after being shot by Montreal police.

The incident received little media coverage, let alone public reaction, including from the Jewish community.

Likewise, the final report by Quebec’s Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI), which was completed in February, passed without notice.

The arms-length agency that’s charged with investigating incidents involving the province’s police forces began looking into the circumstances surrounding the incident and submitted its findings to the Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales (DPCP), or public prosecutions department, on Feb. 18.

The report itself was not made public, but the BEI released the following information:

On June 15, 2017, around 1:42 a.m., a 911 call was received from a member of Cohen’s family stating that he was in “a state of intoxication and in crisis.” He had made threatening remarks before leaving the family residence in his vehicle.

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When the police arrived at the home, Côte-St-Luc public security agents, who are tasked with enforcing municipal bylaws, were already on the scene and a man was behind the wheel of a sport utility vehicle.

He refused a police order to get out of the vehicle and drove away at high speed. The police pursued him for about 10 kilometres, during which the man drove “dangerously, notably going around at high speed in reverse, knocking over cones and crossing a construction zone controlled by signals that he struck.

“The police attempted twice to immobilize the vehicle by ramming into it without success.”

After a third police maneuver, the vehicle ran into a fence. The police got out of their patrol car and approached the vehicle. The man got out of it and backtracked quickly.

One police officer fired and hit Cohen, who was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

It is now up to the DPCP to determine if there are grounds to lay charges against the police who were involved in the incident. The BEI said that its report was not made public because it contains “sensitive and nominative information, declarations by people involved and witnesses, as well as evidence.”

Furthermore, the BEI said it would not disclose any other information on the facts or its investigation.

The BEI, which has the status of a specialized police force, initially announced that it assigned five investigators to the case, who arrived on the scene around 6 a.m. The provincial police force, the Sûreté du Québec, co-operated in the investigation, providing a total of six staff members.

At the request of the Ministry of Public Security, the BEI, which was established in 2016, investigates whenever a person dies, is shot or otherwise seriously injured during a police intervention, or while being detained by the police.