January 2014. Massinissa Kaddour is shot dead by Garda World security agents in front of a branch of TD Bank in Longueuil, a few dozen metres from the family home. Two bullets in the back. The next day, the media talk about an attempted robbery. No legal proceedings are undertaken. Three years later, the facts brought to light by a civil suit filed by the family invalidate the theft hypothesis and could lead to a criminal trial.
This article originally appeared in the French edition of Ricochet and has been translated.
"If no criminal charge has been laid, it is because there has not been sufficient investigation. So we had to do one on our own," says Mohand Kaddour, the victim's brother. Through a legal process, the family was able to learn the identity of the security officers responsible for the homicide and have them questioned by lawyers. It was a huge step for the family. According to several sources, Garda World would have blocked this by any means at its disposal.
On Sept. 26, Judge André Wery assigned the case to the chief justice of the Superior Court. "It's happening here in Quebec and nothing is being done," he said. “I wonder what we’re doing in a civil court. "
The tragedy occurred on the night of Jan. 31-Feb. 1, 2014, in front of a branch of TD Bank on the Boulevard Roland-Therrien in Longueuil. Massinissa was coming out of a Tim Hortons cafe, which he used to frequent, right across from where the Garda World agents came to make a cash withdrawal.
He was not armed.
Lies and negligence
The security agent who fired, Michel Lachance-Vachon, acknowledged during an out-of-court interrogation last January that no attempted robbery had occurred. This statement contradicts the one he made on the evening of the tragedy during a call to 911. The homicide allegedly occurred as a result of a physical altercation between Massinissa and the security agent who accompanied Lachance-Vachon. Massinissa had to withdraw money at the ATM and the agents told him to leave, which would have led to the confrontation. At the time of the interrogation, Lachance-Vachon maintained that he used his weapon because he feared for his life and that of his colleague. The family of the victim does not accept this explanation.
According to information gathered by the family’s lawyers from various witnesses and experts, Massinissa was on the ground at the time the agent fired. Another element that emerged from the interrogation was that the young man was alive and conscious during the agent’s call to 911.
"Mr. Lachance-Vachon and his colleague did nothing to help him," asserts Massinissa’s brother.
Mohand wishes to honour the memory of the man who was barely 32 years old when he lost his life.
"Later, the media portrayed him as a thief and the police told me the case was closed," laments Mohan. “I just want to re-establish the facts."
In February 2014, however, a forensic report had already put into question the justification of self-defence. It explicitly recommended a ballistic analysis to determine the circumstances of the death. An analysis that’s never occurred, according to the family and its lawyers.
The Longueuil police refused all interview requests on this subject from Ricochet.
It is impossible to understand what led Quebec’s Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions not to lay criminal charges.
"We cannot give details about a decision when there are no charges," said Jean-Pascal Benoît, spokesman for the DPCP. Thus, it is necessary to wait for the continuation of the legal proceedings to know more.
In court, Garda World fully justifies the conduct of the two security agents and has covered their legal fees. Moreover, Lachance-Vachon is still working in the same job. "It was up to him [Massinissa] to not carry out a robbery…. He was looking for trouble," said Céline Tessier, the company’s lawyer, during the interrogation of Lachance-Vachon.
"It's as if there was complicity between police and security agents to turn a blind eye to what happened," says Mohand. “Three years later, we have never gotten an apology from Garda World."
A ticking time bomb?
Currently, the Kaddour family is suing Garda World and the two security agents involved for monetary compensation. This fall, they plan to hear witnesses in court and present the results of the ballistic analysis that the lawyers have obtained.
"It was conducted by a former crime scene expert from the Sûreté du Québec and shows that my brother was flat on his stomach or squatting when the bullets were fired,” says Mohand. “That's also what the witnesses say. "
In many ways the story resembles that of many police victims. When the police are responsible for fatal shootings, the public is whipped up and solidarity is at the rendezvous. Think of the outcry provoked by the deaths of Alain Magloire and Fredy Villanueva. An inquiry is also automatically triggered. This time, the bullets came from security agents. Is this story a ticking time bomb? Could it be another manifestation of systemic racism?
"They wanted to pass over the death of my brother in silence by invoking self-defence, but we know today that it was a pure lie,” says Mohand. “In my view, it was murder."