A Canadian man was shot in the head at a courthouse after he and officers charged with remanding him engaged in a physical altercation.
Steven Bertrand, 18, was awaiting transfer by law enforcement after being sentenced in a courtroom in Maniwaki, Quebec, about 190 miles north of Montreal. Bertrand was attempting to take a smoke break outside when officers stopped him, stating that since he was officially remanded into custody, he wasn’t allowed to go outside.
The bickering between officers and Bertrand turned physical, and Bertrand eventually found himself in a chokehold. According to video of the incident, a friend of Bertrand can be heard telling the officer, “That’s abuse of force.”
WARNING: The following video may contain footage some viewers may find disturbing.
The scuffle moved to a different room from where the video was being recorded. That’s when a gunshot can be heard offscreen, followed by screaming from Bertrand’s mother.
Officers allege that Bertrand grabbed the baton of one of them, and may have struck one with it. But it’s unclear at this time why use of force, particularly at Bertrand’s head, was necessary at all, over the issue of smoking a cigarette.
“They should have tasers and be prepared for stuff like that,” Maniwaki resident Pierre Lafond said.
Bertrand is currently in a coma, according to reports from the CBC. His overall condition is unknown at this point.
Police have a right to respond to violent threats against their lives using whatever force is necessary to resolve the situation. But in this instance, it doesn’t seem like their lives were threatened over Bertrand’s request to smoke a cigarette.
A more proper response would have been allowing him to go outside with police escort. Instead, the decision of courtroom police officers to use force to prevent Bertrand to smoke, ultimately shooting him to do so, may end up costing the 18-year-old his life.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Flickr, Karen Neoh