Stable after police shooting

An altercation at a Quebec courthouse that left an 18-year-old man in hospital with a gunshot wound to the head is raising questions about security at the province's courthouses.

The young man was listed in stable condition Thursday, a day after he was shot after fighting with a special constable at a small courthouse in Maniwaki, Que., about 130 km north of Ottawa.

Franck Perales, the head of the union representing courthouse constables, said his organization has been calling for more security in courtrooms across the province.

"For two or three years the union has been ringing the alarm," he said in an interview. "We've had meetings with the government and concerned parties to inform them on the lack of manpower."

Quebec's police watchdog released a statement Wednesday saying the 18-year-old — who has been identified as Steven Bertrand — managed to seize the constable's baton and allegedly used it to strike the officer over the head at the courthouse. The constable then took out a gun and fired it, hitting Bertrand at least once in the head, the statement said.

Perales believes the incident could have been avoided by having more than one special constable on duty.

"Since there was no backup, no reinforcement, no support, he had to manage alone, and nobody helped him," Perales said.

Perales said the union has already begun legal action against the province over the use of private security guards in courthouses in place of special constables, who are subject to the Police Act and work under the same code of ethics as police officers.

Perales said he doesn't want to blame the private security officers, who in his opinion simply don't have enough training to intervene in similar situations.

Bertrand's mother, Julie, wrote on Facebook that her son was stable and the bullet hadn't hit his brain.

"He is strong and he is fighting for his life," she wrote late Wednesday.

A spokesperson for Quebec's independent police watchdog added the constable, who was also injured, was out of danger.

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