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Arrested, then released, a man claims to be a victim of racial profiling in Val-d’Or

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The arrest of Orpheus Oteyami in Val-d'Or was filmed by a witness to the scene, one of the images of which can be seen here.

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Orphée Oteyami, a citizen of Val-d’Or, believes he was the victim of racial profiling on the evening of December 26. The 30-year-old man reports having been arrested and handcuffed for “ten minutes” by agents of the Sûreté du Québec (SQ), on 4th Avenue in Val-d'Or. The SQ emphasizes that recourse exists for people who feel wronged.

The police told me to get out both hands of my vehicle. I was surprised, I didn't understand what was happening. I started to panic and then they told me to come out slowly. They asked me to get on my knees, to lie on the ground, on my stomach, in the snow, and they handcuffed me without explaining anything to me, says Mr. Oteyami in a telephone interview.

Part of the scene was captured on video by witnesses. However, it was Orphée Oteyami who transmitted the images to Radio-Canada. The video shows that guns were pointed at him when he was handcuffed.

It's only in the police car that a agent explained to me that the police received a call saying that there was a possibly armed black man on 4th Avenue.

A quote from Orphée Oteyami

More than two weeks after his arrest, Orphée Oteyami believes having been the victim of racial profiling.

The arrest would have only lasted about ten minutes, but it short moment would have been enough to disrupt the daily life of the professional financial advisor. In particular, he was prescribed a three-week work stoppage by a doctor from the Val-d’Or Hospital Center. Radio-Canada obtained a copy of the post in question.

And more than two weeks after his arrest, Mr. Oteyami continues to link his arrest to racial profiling. We cannot rely on the fact that the person is black to arrest and handcuff them, he says. The information was not sufficient to treat me in this way.

Orphée Oteyami admits that the police officers apologized after his release, but he believes that this gesture, which he welcomes and appreciates, is not enough. I wish they had a little more compassion towards me. “I was told they were sorry, and that’s it,” he says.

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Since this happened, I'm really afraid of seeing the police. I am traumatized, Mr. Oteyami insists. When I see them, I have the impression that they are going to arrest me again and point their guns at me. I'm still in shock.

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Orphée Oteyami, in his thirties, said he was shaken by his arrest, although the event was short-lived.

The police officers on site, who were distributed in three different vehicles, reportedly released Orphée Oteyami after inspecting his vehicle and consulted his identity documents.

The Sûreté du Québec did not wish to comment on the file and grant us interview. The police force nevertheless specifies that any person who believes they have suffered harm can seek different recourses if necessary.

During a criminal offense in progress, the police, as part of their public safety work, are justified in intercepting a vehicle and/or temporarily detaining an individual for the purposes of an investigation if the situation justifies it. This person will of course be released if, following the checks carried out, they are not involved in the event, explains the SQ.

Orphée Oteyami says he went to the Sûreté du Québec station in Val-d'Or to report his arrest and file a complaint. The agents he met would, according to him, have encouraged him to give up. An agent sent him his card with his telephone number.

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Mr. Oteyami says he has contacted law firms and is considering filing an appeal following his arrest.

I explained to them that I was still traumatized and that I could not understand what had happened, he said. They told me it was completely normal. They also insisted that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I was accompanied by my friend. They did not want to take my complaint, continues Mr. Oteyami. Other police came. There were several officers and they were trying to dissuade me. They told me it would pass.

Radio-Canada obtained a copy of the card given to Orphée Oteyami. It’s a salutary gesture, he thinks. I liked his approach and the agent told me, for example, that my employer could call him if he had any questions about my arrest.

Mr. Oteyami still expects much more from the SQ, although he is unable to verbalize what he would like to achieve. He said he contacted Montreal law firms to examine the remedies available to him.

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116