Montreal Family Searching For Answers After Young Man Dies in Custody

One evening earlier this month, David Tshiteya Kalubi was stopped by police in Montreal’s Hochelaga neighbourhood, where he lived.

He was arrested on an outstanding warrant, according to authorities, and taken into custody. Less than 12 hours later, he was dead.

What exactly transpired in the hours leading up to his death early on Nov. 8 remains unclear, but civil rights activists are raising concerns about the case.

Kalubi, 23, had a girlfriend, was beginning a new job and was close to his family, with whom he lived, according to the family’s lawyer, Virginie Dufresne-Lemire.

He was also black — his family is of Congolese origin — a fact that has left some wondering if racial profiling played a role in the circumstances surrounding his death.

Dan Philip, the executive director of the Black Coalition of Quebec, spoke to CBC News about the case after speaking to Kalubi’s mother, who declined to talk to CBC directly.

‘A travesty’

Philip said it took police seven hours to notify her and her family of Kalubi’s death.

When they finally did, Philip says, police first interrogated the family about Kalubi, before telling them he was dead.

“They felt it was a travesty,” Philip said Kalubi’s mother told him.

“They felt there was no compassion. They felt that there was no concern about either the death of the young man or the family themselves who have to mourn the situation.”

The family is holding a private funeral on Saturday.

Quebec’s Bureau of Independent Investigations (BEI), which takes over cases when an individual dies in police custody, is handling the case. For now, it is offering few details.

Kalubi was arrested after police ran a background check and he was found to have an outstanding warrant, Martin Bonin-Charron, a BEI spokesperson, said in an emailed statement to CBC News.

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