Canadian lawsuits against provincial and federal police are doubling in numbers amid heightened awareness of racial profiling by the police against Black and First Nations people. In the wake of worldwide protests over recent high-profile incidents of police brutality, most notably the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Canadians are taking a stance against police brutality and racism.
Two First Nations brothers are suing the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), after officers allegedly falsified their notes to justify a racially induced violent assault. The attack was caught on cellphone video, notes the police brutality lawsuit, where evidence of the police falsifications are clearly visible.
The police brutality lawsuit, filed last week in an Ontario court, is seeking $400,000 in damages.
Canada Class Action Lawsuits Multiply Against Police
The Ontario police brutality lawsuit was filed in the midst of Canadian class actions and lawsuits targeting the RCMP. A $1.1 billion RCMP class action lawsuit alleging a “toxic” work environment within the national police force, including workplace harassment and bullying was certified by a federal court in February.
In 2016, the RCMP began paying out over $100 million to thousands of women officers who suffered sexual harassment over decades in the national police force. In 2019 another $50 million was added to the fund to cover the rising number of cases.
In addition to the high profile RCMP class action lawsuit, a B.C. First Nations man is suing the RCMP after being attacked by a police dog during a violent arrest caught on surveillance video. The officers accused of the violent attack are scheduled to appear in court on August 12.
First Nations Face Police Brutality Across Canada
The Ontario police brutality lawsuit alleges that two officers illegally assaulted Randall May, of the Nipissing First Nation, and Aaron Keeshig, of the Neyaashiinigmiing First Nation.
The attack unfolded in the front yard and driveway of Randall’s home, reports CBC News, and was captured by a relative on cellphone video.
“In order to justify the illegal assault, detention and arrest, the police falsified police notes, falsely accused both brothers of offences they did not commit and wrongly charged Mr. May of assaulting police,” said the statement of claim.
The police brutality lawsuit alleges Randall was thrown to the ground, punched and repeatedly tasered to the point where he lost control of his bodily functions.
Cellphone video shows how one officer shoved Randall into the bushes as Aaron arrived on the scene. Next, the police brutality lawsuit claims Randall was tasered repeatedly.
“They threw me in the back of this car and I guess I was just full of excrement,” he said.
Randall alleged that the OPP did not provide him with a change of clothes or any blankets while he was in the holding cell overnight.
He was charged with assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest, along with two counts under the Liquor Licence Act of being intoxicated in a public place and having open liquor.
His brother, Aaron, also faced charges under the Liquor Licence Act. However, he was convicted after an administrative error, and the conviction was overturned in March 2019.
The police brutality lawsuit against the OPP alleges that Randall and Aaron were illegally detained. The statement of claim reportedly argues that the brothers were the victims of “assault and battery” at the hands of the police.
In 2018, Randall’s criminal charges were withdrawn by the Crown and his liquor charges were withdrawn in 2019.
The police brutality lawsuit accuses the OPP officers of falsifying “their police notes and other official records,” claiming Randall was in a fighting stance, put up his fist and was aggressive. Additionally, the statement alleges that the officers falsely stated that Aaron fell off his bike when he arrived at his brother’s home and was carrying an open can of beer. The video clearly shows that he was not holding a can of beer and that he was walking his bike when he arrived.
The police brutality lawsuit against the OPP was filed a little over a month after a 26-year-old B.C. Indigenous woman was fatally shot by a police officer in New Brunswick during a wellness check.
The family of the victim, Chantel Moore, told the CBC she had recently moved to New Brunswick to live near her mother and daughter.
Following the shooting, the police force asked an “independent agency” to investigate whether the officer’s actions complied with policing standards, as the province does not have an agency that investigates police actions.
Quebec’s independent police watchdog BEI announced it would handle the review.
Have you been a victim of police brutality in Canada? Share your story with us in the comments below!
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