[Hpn] Policeman pleads not guilty of manslaughter of homeless man in Montreal FWD Montreal FWD

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Mon, 15 May 2000 20:22:51 -0700 (PDT)

FWD  Montreal Gazette / Saturday 13 May 2000


Police officer has 'logical, coherent' account of fight, defence lawyer says

The Gazette

[PHOTO] Phil Carpenter, Gazette / Constable Giovanni Stante leaves the
court hearing where he was arraigned on a charge of manslaughter in the
death of Jean-Pierre Lizotte.

A MONTREAL POLICE CONSTABLE charged with unintentionally killing a homeless
man feels unjustly accused, his lawyer said yesterday.

Lawyer Philip Schneider said Constable Giovanni Stante of Montreal Urban
Community police, arraigned yesterday on a charge of manslaughter, will
fight the charge in court.

The 33-year-old constable, and bar doorman Steve Deschatelets, were charged
last month in death of Jean-Pierre Lizotte.

"He feels unjustly accused," Schneider said of his client. "He's obviously
stressed by all this. He's overwhelmed by all the attention he's getting
from the media and the public in general."

Schneider said Stante told him what happened on Sept. 5, when Lizotte was
injured outside the Shed Cafe on St. Laurent Blvd. "My client's version is
logical and coherent," he added.

That night, patrons at two bars complained that Lizotte, who had just got
out of jail, was high on drugs and masturbating in public, Schneider said.

Kicked at Police

Some witnesses to the incident said a doorman was holding Lizotte in a
wrestling hold when officers arrived.

But the 45-year-old homeless man was still able to kick the police.

In retaliation, an officer punched Lizotte a number of times.

Then all of them fell to the ground, with Lizotte on the bottom. He died
more than a month later in hospital.

Stante has been on desk duty since the Surete du Quebec began investigating
Lizotte's death. Once charged, he was suspended without pay.

Schneider said Stante is getting a lot of support from colleagues and
members of the MUC police brotherhood.

Brotherhood officials were in court yesterday to support Stante. They led
him through a gauntlet of cameras and reporters to a waiting taxi.

"The brotherhood is behind him in this matter," the lawyer said. "They know
what kind of person he is.

"He's a professional police officer. He has confidence in the system."

The lawyer for Deschatelets, who worked at the Shed Cafe at the time, said
he has just got involved in the case and hasn't had time to read all the
police evidence that was handed to him in a large archive box.

"It looks like a very complex case," said Gerald Souliere.
<P>Activists for the homeless and a group against police brutality attended
Stante's arraignment to call for a public investigation of deaths at the
hands of MUC police.

Stante and Deschatelets are to return to court on June 20 to have a date
set for their preliminary hearing.


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