On November 17, 2016, a story that originated from Montreal’s police department that 17-year-old Darius Brown was killed after he attempted to tob a 19-year-old woman with his 15-year-old friend. This story spread very quickly throughout the local media, however, they inadvertently told an account that was factually incorrect.
Maitre Gassim Bangoura—a Montreal lawyer, acquaintance, and former schoolmate of mine,—was visibly outraged by the apathy and irresponsible behaviour displayed by Montreal’s police department. I posted his thoughts as per his post on Facebook.
Darius Brown was the 17-year old son of a close family friend that I have known for as long as I have been alive. 11 days ago, Darius was murdered in Montreal. His family is distraught beyond belief. This story could not get worse if it was not for the indignity that the family suffered at the hands of Montreal police and local media when this case was first reported.
Let me explain. On the night of the murder all local media reported the incident – remarkably – in exactly the same way: a 17-year old (Darius) and a 15-year old attempted to rob a woman. A scuffle ensued. The 17-year old falls to the ground, hits his head and dies of his injuries. The story seemed incredible and totally improbable to Darius’ family and to anyone who knew him. Nothing about Darius would cause anyone to think that he was even capable of doing what he was accused of doing. But, the narrative had already been spun: two young thugs attempting to rob a woman, robbery goes wrong, one of the thugs gets his just deserts.
Who was the source for the media stories? Montreal police. Less than 2 hours after the incident, the police were on TV pushing this bullshit theory of the case. The media reported the incident relying solely on the police statement, seemingly without any independent investigation or critical analysis. That night, they filed their stories and probably went to bed thinking that the case was closed. Tragic, but the kid got what he deserved, Right?
Wrong. Within 24 hours, Montreal Police had changed their theory of the case. There was no burglary. The woman made it up. Darius did not die from a slip and fall. He was stabbed to death by a 4th individual who was on the scene but fled. The suspect was eventually apprehended and charged with 2nd degree murder.
Having realized how wrong their reporting was, some local media outlets have published stories that not only set the record straight, but focus on how beloved Darius was in his community. Other stories have pointed to how black victims of crime are unfairly stereotyped and criminalized in this city – by the police and the media. Unfortunately, most news outlets have ignored the underlying issue in this tragedy.
And, the Montreal police? Well, they are as unrepentant as ever, even after doing a complete 180 on the facts of this case. Why were they so wrong? Well, if I was a reporter doing my job I would be asking the police some basic questions. Sad to say, our local media have been largely silent. Pathetic.
Much love to Roxanne, Stephen Hennessy and the family. Rest in Peace Darius.