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Posted Friday, August 15, 2008
Montreal cop frustrated by force's silence on teen's death
By Sue Montgomery, Jason
Magder and Christopher Maughan
Canwest News Service
MONTREAL - As family and friends buried a Montreal teenager killed in a police shooting last weekend, a veteran police officer with intimate knowledge of the case expressed frustration Thursday over his bosses' silence about the incident that sparked riots in the city.

"I'm sure those two cops involved are sitting at home saying, 'Jesus, I got beaten up and my bosses won't defend me'. "

The police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job, said the female constable involved in Sunday's shooting - a rookie with just two years' experience - was brutally beaten. Her partner, the officer said, fired his gun to save her life.
montreal funeral
Fredy's Villanueva's mother Lilian and father Gilberto walk by his casket after a funeral service at a Montreal North funeral home. (Jonhn Kenney/Montreal Gazette)
What would it hurt for the police to say our officer's in hospital and is badly bruised from being beaten?"

But both the Montreal police and the city say they are silenced by the ministerial policy that dictates one police force must investigate another police force when a cop is involved in a death.

Claude Dauphin, the chairman of the city council's executive committee who is in charge of the city's police force, went further, saying he has been kept completely in the dark about the incident.

"I don't know what happened," he said. "The police haven't given me any details of what happened that evening."

What is known is that 18-year-old Fredy Villanueva, whose brother Dany's arrest sparked the altercation with police, was shot and killed. Two other people were wounded.
montreal funeral2
Fredy Villanueva, right, is seen in this undated family photo. He was reportedly shot and killed by Montreal police on Saturday, Aug. 9, 2008. 
"This guy (the police were arresting) was in a gang up to his ears," alleged the officer, who has more than 25 years on the force and knows one of the cops involved in the shooting.

In 2006, Dany Villanueva was sentenced to 11 months in prison for robbery, possession of a firearm and breaking his bail conditions.

In sentencing Dany Villanueva, the judge said: "Although there is no proof that he is a member of a street gang, he associates with gang members."

The officer who spoke to Canwest News Service on Thursday said the two police officers patrolling the area tried to arrest Dany Villanueva because they believed he was breaking his probation conditions.

That's when the altercation began.

"One guy had (the female officer) in a headlock trying to strangle her, some jumped on her back and others were kicking her," said the officer, who was not at the scene of Saturday's shooting.

Unable to stop the chaos, her partner pulled his gun and fired.

Asked why the constable didn't just fire a warning shot, the officer replied: "We're not allowed to do that."

The policy, he said, is if your life is in danger, you can shoot between the belt and the head.

Why not just injure him with a bullet to the leg?
montreal funeral1
Gilberto and Lilian Villanueva, the parents of Fredy Villanueva (centre) along with other family members are overcome with grief at his funeral in Montreal, Thursday, Aug. 14, 2008. (Graham Huges/The Canadian Press)
"Try, with all the stress and the guy moving around, to aim and actually hit a leg," he replied.

The Surete du Quebec is investigating whether the Montreal police acted properly. So far, no charges have been laid against Dany Villanueva, who has been released from police custody.

The officer said rank and file Montreal cops are disappointed their chief, Yvan Delorme, won't speak out and they feel it's because he doesn't want to ruffle feathers at city hall.

But chief inspector Paul Chablo said it's not a question of supporting or not supporting the officers.

"In order to respect the transparency of the investigation, we're not allowed to make any type of comments about the incident, negative or positive."

While Dauphin wouldn't say that policy specifically forbids them from speaking publicly, he said that as a lawyer, he considers his silence basic legal procedure. "

As a lawyer, the first thing we tell our witnesses or clients is don't say a word because it could go against you in the investigation."

But in his interview with Canwest News Service, the anonymous officer said he sees the silence as simple politics of a police chief in tight with the mayor.

"They'll never come out and say there's a problem in Montreal North with gangs or that black guys (Haitians) are shooting at our guys," he said in frustration.

"They don't want to seem racist, but even the Haitian cops are ashamed of it."

About 400 mourners gathered at a funeral home in Montreal North on Thursday, spilling out of the chapel where Fredy Villanueva's service was being held, mostly in Spanish, into the hallway.

His smiling face looked out at mourners from a T-shirt worn by his close friends and family.

"Fredy was a good friend who will stay in our hearts forever," his sister Patricia Villanueva said in French. "We want to thank our friends and everyone who came here today to accompany us in our grief. That's all I have to say. Thank you very much. It's really very much appreciated."

Patricia Villanueva, 27, who is eight months pregnant, was the only family member to speak during the service. Her brown hair was tied back in a bun, and her protruding stomach emphasized the words on the T-shirt which read: "Pipo, we'll always remember you," referring to Fredy by his nickname.

"The ceremony was all about hope," said Victor Henriquez, a spokesman for the family. "In Fredy's memory, we have to work toward peace and to find solutions to the problems we have."

© Montreal Gazette 2008. Online version, published Thursday, August 14, 2008.
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