A Question of Timing
One thing we know for certain is that Fredy Villanueva is dead. How he got that way is currently being questioned at a coroner’s inquest in the city of Montreal. And it is the subject of ardent dispute.
Here’s what is not in contention. On the evening of August 9, 2008 a group of five unarmed young men were “playing dice” in a parking lot located in Montreal’s North End. A squad car carrying two police officers arrived on the scene and within moments a melee broke out. A police officer fired four shots, at least one of which found poor Fredy Villanueva.
According to the police officers, they merely intended to question the individuals concerned because they appeared to be gambling in public, in contravention of the city’s by-laws. Things got out of hand when the officers attempted to arrest one of the suspects, who refused to identify himself.
You might say that “push came to shove” and before you know it, all hell broke loose. The officer who fired the fatal shots stated that he felt his life was in imminent danger. The person who resisted arrest happened to be Dany Villanueva, the late Fredy’s brother.
As you can imagine, the version of events provided by the dice players differs in significant ways. They suggest that the police intervention was prompted by their race, that is, by racial profiling. Moreover, they allege that Dany Villanueva never resisted arrest but rather was the victim of police brutality. Finally, they argue that when they approached the beleaguered Dany Villaneuva, the officers panicked and overreacted in the maximum.
The truth is that we weren’t there and so we don’t know what actually transpired. That is the purview of the coroner’s inquest… to get to the bottom of a controversial death, so that we can learn something from it.
Now, for the part that really doesn’t smell right. In January of this year, just months before he was scheduled to testify at the Coroner’s inquest, Canada’s Border Services Agency (CBSA) began proceedings to have Dany Villanueva deported because of past criminal activity. Last week, the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) concurred with CBSA and ordered the deportation of Dany Villanueva.
Clearly, Dany Villanueva is a very important witness for the Coroner conducting the inquest. He has already testified but could very well be required to provide additional evidence. The past criminal activity took place in 2006 and while it makes him susceptible to removal from Canada, why just now? According to Dany Villanueva’s lawyer, who has launched an appeal of the deportation order, these removal proceedings are usually initiated 8 to 10 months after a conviction. If CBSA has waited almost five years to kick Dany Villanueva out of Canada, why not wait until the conclusion of the inquest? It would certainly add credibility to the inquest’s results.