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Friday, October 10, 2008

Peel police sued over alleged beating, Tasering

October 10, 2008
Bob Mitchell, Toronto Star

A 35-year-old Mississauga man has filed a $9 million lawsuit against Peel Police Chief Mike Metcalf, the Peel Police Services Board and dozens of officers, including four who are alleged to have beaten and Tasered him inside a police station interrogation room.

Patrick Quinn, an admitted career criminal, claims he was repeatedly kicked, punched and electronically shocked several times by a Taser on Jan.15 and 16 , 2008, because he refused to provide information about guns on the street.

The beatings resulted in several broken ribs, bruising and swelling around his ribs, eyes, jaws, chest and shoulder, as well as Taser burns to his back, arms and face, according to his lawyer David Shiller, who filed the lawsuit earlier this week in Toronto.

All allegations contained in the Statement of Claim must still be proven in court.

Chief Metcalf is out of the country but Deputy Chief Paul Tetzlaff said today that he wasn't aware of the lawsuit, which had yet to be served..

The assaults are alleged to have occurred in the same 12 Division Peel Police station where a Brampton man, who later died, was Tasered during a struggle with four officers in the cell area. Sean Reilly, 42, went into medical distress soon after being shocked last month after being arrested for a weapons offence. He was rushed to Trillium Health Centre where he died about 12 hours later.

The province's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is still probing that incident to determine whether criminal charges should be laid against any of the involved officers. SIU spokesperson John Yoannou said today they were never involved in the Quinn matter.

Quinn, whose criminal record, includes drugs convictions, is asking for $4.5 million for torture, grievous bodily harm and intentional infliction of mental distress. He's also seeking $2.5 million in punitive damages and $2 million in special damages.

Four Peel officers are alleged to have directly participated in what the lawsuit claims was a "vicious, criminal, pre-meditated" assault in the interrogation room after the videotape recorder had been turned off. It's alleged he was beaten to "instil fear" in him to give information about other criminal activity in Peel that would enhance the careers of the officers.

It's also alleged the officers tortured and assaulted him because they thought nobody would believe his allegations because of his drug-related criminal past.

The claim alleges dozens of other officers, both make and female, as well as senior officers at the division participated in a station-wide cover-up of the incident.

According to the statement, Quinn was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped in Mississauga at Camilla Rd. and Dundas St. on Jan. 15, 2008. He was pulled over because there was a warrant for his arrest for breach of probation and was to be questioned in connection with a break-and-enter. A small quantity of crack cocaine was later found under the passenger seat.

After being handcuffed, it's alleged he was grabbed by the throat by a male officer and thrown against a police cruiser, causing his head to smash into the roof of the vehicle. A female officer is alleged to have grabbed his testicles and penis.

Once at 12 Division, he was allegedly illegally strip-searched and taken to an interrogation room where the beatings occurred after he refused to "make a deal" by providing information about guns. It's alleged he was prohibited from contacting a lawyer despite asking to speak to one several times while in custody.

After being beaten, Quinn claims he asked to be taken to Trillium hospital about five to eight hours after initially asking for medical help.

En route, he claims to have seen a text message sent by another officer that said something to the effect of - "Quinn's an idiot if he thinks going to hospital will do him any good." Quinn claims the driver tried to persuade him not to go to hospital after receiving the message.

It's alleged doctors couldn't take x-rays because his ribs were too swollen but he was prescribed pain medication as well as medication for his epilepsy. He alleges the officers never gave him the medication.

Once back at the police station, it's alleged he was again beaten and Tasered in an interrogation room before being brought to court for his bail hearing.

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