MONTREAL – A coroner has finally issued his report into the death of a teen five years ago during a Montreal police intervention that sparked riots in parts of the city.
Quebec court Judge Andre Perreault has found that Fredy Villanueva’s death was the result of a multitude of human factors, which, when taken on their own, could not justify the end result.
The long-awaited report includes about 20 recommendations for police, the city and the provincial Health Department.
Perreault, the ad-hoc coroner who oversaw the 106-day inquest, heard from 47 witnesses. The inquest wrapped up this past June, after legal wrangling led to numerous delays.
The death of Fredy Villanueva in August 2008 occurred as police tried to put an end to a dice game and arrest the teen’s older brother.
In the ensuing scuffle, Fredy Villanueva was shot and killed and two other people were injured by police bullets.
The death sparked a night of widespread rioting and looting in Montreal’s north end that received worldwide attention.
Perreault called the death a “result of a multitude of circumstances of human nature, which, if considered on its own, cannot logically justify this result.”
“Thousands of offences as trivial as playing dice in a park are subject to annual police interventions that all go well, even when the police and citizens do not agree on whether the offence has indeed been committed,” Perreault noted.
Perreault was particularly critical of how the post-shooting investigation was handled, one he said was subject to numerous gaffes.
That provincial police investigation cleared the Montreal police officers and no criminal charges were ever laid in the case.
Villanueva’s family and supporters have claimed the entire process was set up to clear the officers.