October 3, 2009
KARENA WALTER, ST. CATHARINE'S STANDARD
A civil judgment that found Niagara Regional Police officers abused their authority and "flouted the law" by Tasering a St. Catharines man multiple times is being appealed by police.
In documents filed with the Court of Appeal in Toronto, the police service's lawyer argues Judge Raymond Harris drew "unwarranted conclusions on factual issues" when he made his June 29 ruling awarding Michael Parsons $50,000.
The notice of appeal also claims the judge drew "unwarranted negative inferences against the officers."
It asks the judgment be set aside and the case dismissed.
Parsons sued the police service and five individual officers for negligence, false arrest, assault, malicious prosecution and breach of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms for the Dec. 18, 2003 confrontation.
His trial was held in in Welland Superior Court in March.
Parsons, who was known to police, was a passenger in a Jeep driven by his fiancee on Lundy's Lane, on the outskirts of Niagara Falls. He testified he yelled "Hey Baby" out the window at an officer he recognized and police pulled the Jeep over a short time later.
Parsons testified he was unarmed when he was dragged out of the Jeep onto the ground and assaulted, choked, pulled into a ditch and Tasered 10 to 15 times.
He was charged with assaulting police and resisting arrest, but those charges were later withdrawn by the Crown.
Officers testified Parsons was hanging out of the Jeep window from the waist up, justifying the vehicle stop, but Harris questioned why none of them recorded that observation in their duty book notes.
He found there was no reason for police to stop the Jeep and that Parsons was Tasered more than three times without justification. He called the assault "offensive and egregious."
The judge awarded the 30-year-old man $50,000 in total damages and indicated he would have given Parsons more if he had asked for a greater sum.
The notice of appeal claims there were at least 15 errors made by the judge that are grounds for appeal.
It says those include the judge's finding that information not included in officers' duty book notes was inherently unreliable.
Harris also didn't make allowances for "expected differing versions of events" in officers' testimony, it said.
The judge made a mistake by concluding there was no reasonable basis to stop the vehicle, it says, and that Harris erred by concluding there were no reasonable grounds to charge Parsons with assaulting police and resisting arrest.
The notice says the judge spent almost no time in his decision "discussing the "grossly inconsistent and disparate testimony of the plaintiffs" and ignored independent evidence, such as from an emergency room doctor.
The notice says Parsons should not have been awarded damages. It argues Parsons' former fiancee Terri Lynn Ryckman, a co-plaintiff in the case, should not have received a $10,000 award for nervous shock and emotional distress or $5,000 in punitive damages.
No date for the appeal has been set.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Saturday, October 03, 2009
October 3, 2009