No charges for Quebec police officers who killed Black man

Jean René Junior Olivier

The local police officers who shot and killed a Black man in Repentigny, Que., will not face criminal charges, Quebec’s Crown prosecutors’ office announced last Thursday.

Jean René Junior Olivier, 37, was shot on Aug. 1, 2021 after police were called to his mother’s home in the municipality located just east of Montreal.

His mother, Marie-Mireille Bence, said she called 911 because her son was hallucinating and holding a knife. She was worried for his safety.

Her son’s death shocked and outraged members of the Repentigny’s Black community, whose relationship with local police has been strained for years.

Bence has said on several occasions that her son had dropped the knife and that firing shots was not necessary. She also said she believes race played a role in the fatal shooting.

Quebec’s police watchdog, the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes, investigated the shooting before handing over evidence to the Crown.

In a statement, the Crown said “analysis of the evidence does not indicate the commission of a crime by the officers of the Service de police de la Ville de Repentigny.”

The statement also includes a rundown of the events leading up to the shooting.

For about 15 minutes, Olivier dropped the knife and picked it back up several times while officers calmly tried to convince him to step away from it, the statement says.

Moments before the shooting, however, the Crown prosecutors’ office statement says Olivier picked it up and charged toward the officers, who were about five metres away.

The office also says video evidence was reviewed before the decision to not charge the officers was made.

“The events were filmed by one of the paramedics who was at the scene and had a practically unobstructed view,” the statement reads.

“In this case, the police intervention was legal and was based on the police officers’ duty to ensure — from the first moments up until the shots are fired — the safety of citizens under their protection as well as their own.”

The office says it met with Olivier’s family and informed them of the reasons for its decision.