Ontario man who wanted to be a cop wins $25,000 after suing police for beating, jailing him unlawfully
Garrett Rollins was about to start a police-foundations course, the first step toward a dream career in law enforcement, when he and friends gathered for his 19th birthday party.
By the time the bash in Niagara Falls, Ont. was over, Rollins was bloodied, bruised, in jail – and reconsidering his choice of occupation.
Now a judge has awarded him $25,000 in damages after finding the police officers who raided the party beat him repeatedly and without provocation and subjected him to a wrongful arrest and prosecution.
The traumatic incident, noted the judge last Friday after a rare civil trial on police-brutality allegations, “altered his future career plans forever.” Rollins now works as a real estate agent.
Constable Matt Pouli “overreacted. He punched Mr. Rollins,” said Justice Paul Sweeny of Ontario’s Superior Court. “When Mr. Rollins went down on the ground, PC Pouli continued to strike him. Mr. Rollins was bleeding from the face … PC Pouli was the aggressor and applied force to Mr. Rollins without his consent and with no justification at law.”
A spokesman for the Niagara Regional Police Service was not immediately available for comment on the case.
Rollins said Tuesday he wanted to consult with others before speaking at length, but said the incident in 2008 had lasting effects.
“It changed my life,” he said in a brief interview. “I was in police foundations and I got assaulted and, you know, I dropped out as a result. I still have problems to this day because of that incident.”
The episode began in the early morning of Aug. 14 when police entered a home in Niagara Falls to clear out the birthday party after noise complaints from neighbours.
Pouli and another officer who testified at the trial said there was fighting when they arrived and that partygoers were swearing at them and calling them “pigs.” Pouli said Rollins was getting in his face and at one point grabbed him by the arm.
The officer says he told the teenager he was under arrest and that Rollins, a muscular amateur boxer, then put up his hands in a fighting stance, so he hit him with an open hand, then handcuffed him after he fell to the floor.
But Justice Sweeny said he believed other witnesses, who said Rollins as the host was helping escort people out of the house, not hindering police.
When Const. Benjamin Tomiuck pushed a female partygoer against the wall, Rollins challenged him, saying “Can you do that?”
“We can do whatever the f— we want,” Tomiuck replied, according to the ruling.
When Rollins said the officers didn’t have to be “such dicks,” Pouli took exception and struck the man, sending him to the concrete floor, before hitting him repeatedly on the ground.
“The blood was smeared all over the floor,” said Justice Sweeny. “Mr. Rollins did not take a fighting stance or invite PC Pouli to fight … It is not reasonable to believe Mr. Rollins, a person who was enrolled in a police foundations course, would want to fight a police officer. In any event, given his boxing experience, it is unlikely he could have been subdued as easily as he was.”
Outside the house, the officer banged Rollins’ head against the police cruiser before placing him inside, the judge said.
The assault left him with a “goose-egg” bump on his head, a chipped tooth, split lip, cuts and abrasions.
Charged with assaulting an officer and resisting arrest, Rollins was held in jail overnight, but acquitted of all charges at a later trial.
The judge awarded $5,000 for assault, $2,500 for false arrest, $11,000 for malicious prosecution and $10,000 in punitive damages, the latter designed to express “the court’s disapproval of the wrongdoer’s conduct.”http://news.nationalpost.com/news/ontar ... unlawfully