A Montreal police constable who was arrested in an Internal Affairs investigation only months after he received a medal from the provincial government for meritorious service has been suspended without pay for two months.
The Comité de déontologie policière (the provincial police ethics committee) recently released its decision to suspend Charles Lavallée, 40, for having failed to respect the law by trafficking in steroids, an illicit substance. Lavallée, a member of the police force since 1999, pleaded guilty to the offence in 2014, but received a sentence on Dec. 18, 2015, that involved an unconditional discharge, left him with no criminal record, and allowed him to return to the police force in 2016.
The origins of the investigation that resulted in Lavallée being charged began in January 2011, when a Montreal police officer was beaten and held against his will during a vacation in Mexico. While at a bar, the officer noticed that other police officers from Quebec appeared to be hanging out with known organized crime figures. The officer was spotted as he tried to take photographs of the group. Shane Kenneth “Wheels” Maloney, 41, an alleged leader of the West End Gang, ordered that the officer be beaten.
Maloney and Marc-André Lachance, 35, a man tied to the Hells Angels, were charged in connection with the assault after they returned to Montreal. According to a decision released by the Parole Board of Canada last year, Lachance, who was sentenced to a five-year prison term for the assault and other crimes, carried out the beating while holding the police officer against his will for two hours. The decision also describes how several people tied to the Hells Angels were at the bar when the photographs were taken.
The Montreal police also opened an internal investigation, dubbed Project Équerre, based on how one of its officers, Amir El Alfy, 38, was alleged to have been among the group the police officer tried to photograph in Mexico. The internal probe led to charges being filed against Lavallée, EL Alfy and two Longueuil police officers.
Lavallée was not originally a target of Project Équerre, but something he did while it was underway drew the attention of investigators. He was placed under surveillance and his phone calls, emails and text messages were secretly recorded and monitored.
On April 24, 2012, while preparing to work on a protest march, Lavallée, who was dressed in his uniform, went to the back of the building that houses Montreal police headquarters on St-Urbain St. and handed a bottle containing 100 steroid pills to a fellow police officer. The transfer of pills was recorded on video and Lavallée was arrested hours later as his headed home from work.
His arrest just less than a year after Lavallée and four of his colleagues received a medal from Quebec’s justice minister in May 2011 for having risked their lives in 2010 while preventing a suicidal man from jumping into rush hour traffic from an overpass onto the Ville-Marie Expressway.
Lavallée’s lawyer noted the award for meritorious service to the ethics committee while arguing his client has suffered enough. Lavallée was suspended without pay by the Montreal police for four years and Lavallée’s marriage came to an end following his arrest. He returned to the police force in 2016 and two of his superiors described him as a good police officer. The lawyer asked that Lavellée be suspended for a day, but the committee disagreed.
“The goal of the (police) ethics system is to protect the public,” the committee wrote in its decision. “Also, it goes without saying that the public has to have confidence in its police officers. In making its decision, the committee had to ask whether a citizen, well informed of the facts in his case, continues to have confidence in Constable Lavallée.”