Twice Tased Man Pursues $2 Million Lawsuit Against OPP

Lawsuits against police and police-related pertinent court decisions.

Twice Tased Man Pursues $2 Million Lawsuit Against OPP

Postby Thomas » Fri Jan 15, 2016 11:37 am

Twice Tased Sault Business Man Pursues $2 Million Lawsuit Against OPP

When Dan Knox sat down to lunch at his kitchen table with his mom and his daughter, Sherry Cole, on June 11th 2014, he was feeling pretty good. As Dan, owner of Tree Men & a Chainsaw, sank his teeth into the juicy deliciousness of Muio’s restaurant’s broasted chicken, he had no clue that the accompanying coleslaw would never pass his lips. In less than an hour Dan would be twice tased in the back, shin raked, arrested and slammed into the back of an OPP cruiser. But his adventure would not be shared alone. Sherry, along with Dan’s son, Harrison Knox, and Dan’s employee, Calvin Lynn, would all find themselves handcuffed and held behind bars at the OPP’s Sault Ste. Marie detachment that spring afternoon.

Editor’s Note: The series of events that have led up to the recent filing of a Statement of Claim (attached below) initiating a lawsuit against the OPP are anything but simple. Various interviews, legal documents, photographs and video have been resourced to parse together the following article. Statements made about the events on June 11th, 2014 by the Northern Hoot have been informed by: admissions made by the individuals who those statements are about; or were corroborated in reports where statements are agreed upon by all parties. Those directly quoted below provided their comments to the Northern Hoot. Sparing the reader from the he-said-she-said merry-go-round, this piece attempts to focus on the broader issues of this conundrum that encompass vigilantism, police accountability and transparency, and media accountability. Efforts were made to obtain comment from the OPP but none were received by the Northern Hoot at the time of publication.

At 6’2” and 250 lbs., Dan is a presence that naturally commands a certain respect when he walks into a room. “I’m a big man,” acknowledges Dan. “But there’s absolutely no reason to be afraid of me.”

He admits that in his younger days his past was - well, a bit colourful but after meeting the love of his life in 1982, who he tragically lost only three years ago, he was inspired to a productive lifestyle that meted out a successful career. He spent the first 25 years of a 40 year career with the Algoma Central Rail working as a conductor and a brakeman. In the mid-90’s, while transitioning from his position with the ACR, Dan established his business, Tree Men & a Chainsaw. His daughter and son, as well as extended family, have all wielded the Tree Men chainsaw. Dan is fond of referring to his family as a “working family”.

Dan wiped off his sticky fingers when the phone rang that afternoon and picked up the phone. Harrison was on the other end and what he was saying had Dan boggled and concerned. Dan had sent out a four man crew to handle a job - his son, his nephew - Kenneth Knox, his grandson and Sherry’s son - Daniel Campbell and his employee - Calvin Lynn. Harrison explained to his father that the crew had been driving to the job in two vehicles and that they had stopped at the abandoned Esso in Heyden to pile into one vehicle to attend the next work site together. While making the switch a Ford SUV hauling a trailer and a black SUV had blocked the crew’s exit from the parking lot. Dan called the OPP for assistance but before he could head out the door to see what was happening for himself, Harrison called again saying that the SUV pulling the trailer had rammed into the side of his truck popping the front passenger tire. Dan grabbed a spare tire, Sherry grabbed a clipboard to collect information for insurance and they headed out to the site. Dan drove while Sherry called 911 to inquire if OPP had arrived on scene and was advised to pull over and not proceed to the incident area.

“I could not understand them telling me that I could not go and help my family and my business on the side of the highway,” Dan remarked. “It was outrageous.”

Dan and Sherry continued on to the abandoned gas station.

So, what led to the crew being barricaded on the side of the highway? Meet driver of the black SUV - Wendy Grenier and her passenger, daughter Cindy Wagner. Also meet driver of the SUV hauling the trailer - John Vanderloo Sr. and his passenger, son John Vanderloo Jr.

Both drivers were travelling north as were the two vehicles carrying the Tree Men crew. Vanderloo and his son were between both Tree Men vehicles and Grenier was last in the line-up. Grenier and Wagner observed the Tree Men vehicle behind Vanderloo, driven by Calvin, pull into the oncoming lane to pass the Vanderloos. The Vanderloos, Grenier and Wagner would later tell the OPP that the pass forced an oncoming vehicle onto the side of the road and Vanderloo slowed down his vehicle and pulled far right to provide room for the Tree Men truck to pass. The Tree Men truck moved into the proper lane.

The Tree Men vehicles proceeded to the abandoned Esso and pulled in. The Vanderloos turned into the abandoned Esso looking for gas not realizing there was none to be found. Grenier and Wagner pulled into the Esso to detain the Tree Men by blocking the front exit and then called the police. The dispatcher advised Grenier not to follow the Tree Men vehicle. Wagner exited the vehicle and in her own words recalls saying to Calvin, “what is wrong with you, you almost caused a head on collision, you’re not going anywhere, we have called the cops”. Grenier in her own words said of her daughter “my daughter was mouthing off to them a bit”. Wagner then approached the Vanderloos and in her own words recalls saying to Vanderloo Sr., “We are blocking them from the front. Pull up and block them from the back.” Vanderloo complied with Wagner’s direction and in his own words says, “I then drove away from the gas pump and directly behind the red pick-up truck”.

From this point accounts from the Vanderloos, Grenier, Wagner and the Tree Men crew are varied – a real typical he-said-she-said circus. What all parties agree on is that the Vanderloos, Grenier and Wagner deliberately barricaded the Tree Men vehicles and what can be seen by photo evidence taken by the police, the Tree Men vehicle took a significant amount of damage to the passenger side including a punctured tire. What could have been handled as a traffic infraction by the OPP turned into an escalated situation that now included property damage, accusations of physical assault, multiple arrests and tarnished reputations.

In Canada any person can make a citizen’s arrest if they catch someone “in the act of committing a crime, or escaping from and freshly pursued by persons who have lawful authority to arrest that person, in order to lawfully make a citizen’s arrest”. In these instances, the citizen arrest must be made at the time of the criminal offence. However, if the criminal offence occurs on or in relation to one’s property a citizen arrest can be made at time the crime is being committed or within a reasonable period of time after having found that person committing that crime.

Some legal observers worry that the power of citizen arrest could lead to dangerous situations, violence, false accusations or forms of vigilantism.

Was the pass made by 21 year old Calvin a crime or an example of lousy, inexperienced driving? A judge would later decide that Calvin’s pass, though maybe risky, was not a crime. Grenier and Wagner decided otherwise, taking matters into their own hands and barricaded the Tree Men’s property preventing the Tree Men from leaving with their vehicles. Vanderloo Sr. willingly conspired with Grenier and Wagner using his SUV and trailer as a blockade.

Davin Charney, Charney Law, represents Dan Knox’s lawsuit. Of the conduct of the Vanderloos, Grenier and Wagner, Charney believes it was “excessive” and “unlawful”. “Under the circumstances it was not lawful for them to make a citizen arrest because they didn’t find someone committing a criminal offence. In this situation they were reacting to the driving incident. Bad driving doesn’t necessarily mean a criminal offence has taken place. But the big problem is that they acted unlawfully and excessively and they escalated the situation way beyond the simple driving matter that it could have been. What they could have done was made note of the license plate and contacted the police. That’s what most people would do under those circumstances. There was no reason to barricade those vehicles in. It was those people that escalated the situation but the Knox family paid the price.”

Both Grenier and Vanderloo admit that the incident at the Esso was out of control. Remarked Grenier of her decision to pursue the Tree Men to the Esso, “There could have been an accident. It scared the heck out of me and my daughter and so I did what I did. I figured there was something wrong with that driver. I figured he was drunk or something and to avoid him from killing somebody else I thought I would stop him and report it to the police. I certainly didn’t expect it to turn into the situation that it did. There was no need for that. I never thought it would escalate the way that it did.”

Vanderloo remarked that the entire incident at the Esso was “unreal” and “the whole thing snowballed” adding, “Something needed to be done so it didn’t happen again. They couldn’t be left unpunished for doing what they did. They needed to be talked to by authorities. I was just trying to be a good Samaritan.”

Shortly after 1 p.m. the OPP began arriving on scene - Constable Luigi Bruni, Constable Mario Posteraro, Constable Peter Van Den Diepstraten, Constable Keith Nicolle, and a bit later – Sergeant Ken Spahr and Sergeant Mike Wreggitt. All, with the exception of Sergeant Wreggitt, are named in the Statement of Claim.

The Claim provides that the Knox family aims to sue the OPP for $2 million. $1.5 million is set out for general damages that include negligence, assault, battery, false arrest, false imprisonment, trespass to property, misfeasance of public office and malicious breach of public duty. An additional $500,000 is sought for breaches of sections 7, 8 and 9 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and for aggravated and punitive damages.

On scene, the officers spoke with the Vanderloos, Grenier and Wagner and within a few minutes determined that they had enough information to arrest and charge Calvin and Harrison. Calvin was charged with dangerous driving as well as resisting a peace officer. Harrison was charged with dangerous driving and assault. Calvin’s charges were significantly decreased by a judge from a dangerous charge to a minor traffic violation and his assault charge was dropped. All of Harrison’s charges were entirely dropped.

Charney believes the police investigation was one-sided. Of the Vanderloos’, Grenier’s and Wagner’s participation in the incident that day Charney remarked, “They barricaded the Tree Men employees and that should have caused the police some concern right from the start. They should have questioned them as to their motives because they essentially engaged in vigilante justice. Usually that kind of activity irks police. The police don’t want civilians doing the work that they’re supposed to be doing. The police seemed so intent on taking action against the employees and later Dan Knox. The investigation was myopic.”

By the time Dan and Sherry finally arrived Calvin and Harrison were both cuffed and sitting in separate police cruisers.

“I saw Harrison in the back of the police cruiser that I had parked beside,” explains Dan. “He was motioning me over. So I went over to open the door to see what was going on. As soon I opened the door I was hit with an incredible blast of heat, considerably hotter than the outside air, which was itself rather hot. But before I had a chance to say anything to Harrison someone screamed from behind for me to get away from the car. It was Constable Nicolle. So right away I backed away and started walking towards Nicolle who was comfortably in the shade interviewing these ladies that had detained my Tree Men crew. Meanwhile, my son was cooking in the backseat of Constable Nicolle’s metal oven. Harrison did not get out of the oven, staying where he was. Calvin was also basting in sweat and thoroughly done by this time. I calmly walked towards Constable Nicolle to see what was going on. I had not taken more than two steps and he says ‘get on the ground, you’re under arrest’. And I say ‘for what? I didn’t do anything’. As soon as we get within arm’s reach he grabs my arm and I told him ‘don’t touch me’ and then he says ‘you’re under arrest for assault’. And then I hear a guy behind me saying ‘get on the ground’ and it’s Constable Posteraro with his taser in my face and I’m asking him ‘what for’ and that’s where the video starts.”

“Some people are going to watch the video and say ‘well if he didn’t resist that wouldn’t have happened’,” remarked Charney. “People need to know that you are lawfully allowed to resist arrest when the police are doing something that is illegal like unlawfully arresting you. Also, the taser- you can see it being used. It’s kind of a cliché to ‘shoot someone in the back’ but that’s what happened. He turned his back on the police. He’s not obviously of any danger. He’s not trying to flee. He’s just trying to not be arrested. He was trying to engage and talk with the officers and then he got shot in the back. People need to appreciate how dangerous the use of a taser is.”

A report released in 2013 indicates that 9,174 tasers are in use in Canada. Between 1998 – 2013, 33 taser deaths have been reported.

Knox was tased twice in the back. The second time he was tased he was on the ground with the probes still attached to his back. “It’s really shitty,” remarked Dan of his experience. “Like a heart attack. You just shut right down. I felt completely helpless. I don’t recommend it for anyone. All they wanted to do was subdue me from the moment I was there. I know I’m big but I’d never strike an officer. I’m not an idiot. There’s no reason to be afraid of me. I’m a business owner, a father, a grandfather. They have to be able to figure some shit out- they’re making over a 100 grand a year for crying out loud.”

Dan was arrested and led to the police cruiser where he hesitated trying to fit in the confined quarters of the backseat. “I got out of the dirt, cuffed criminally tight and was led to another cruiser oven. I’m trying to figure out how to accommodate my 6’2” frame into a space that allowed for 5” or 6” of leg room when someone starts kicking me in the back of the ankles as hard and fast as they can, while officer Posteraro and Nicolle hold me in place. These guys are just too good to each other.”

Reports described the force used to persuade Dan into the vehicle as ‘shin rakes’. “Go figure,” said Dan. “Where I come from that’s called a ‘boot fucking’. After they finished beating the shit out of me this little guy gets into the front of the crusier, turns around and says to me ‘I thought lumberjacks were supposed to be tough’. Can you imagine that? I informed him that we were, in fact, arborists or urban foresters but I did not convey that I was pretty certain that my dear daughter would likely hammer him had she the right to defend herself.”

As Dan was sitting in the cruiser he had a front row seat as Sherry was taken into custody. Sherry, who was recording the incident with her cell phone, can be observed on the video alternately encouraging her father to do as the officers were ordering and questioning the officer’s proclamation of arrest. She was next to Dan when he was first tased. When Constable Posteraro tased Dan a second time she pushed him away from her father.

In the Statement of Claim, Charney writes: Sherry acted lawfully to prevent further use of the taser against Knox. Her conduct was reasonable, necessary, and for the lawful purpose of defending Knox against excessive use of force by police.

At point 29 and 30 in the Statement of Claim, it is indicated that: Sherry was grabbed, pushed around, and then bent over the hood of a police cruiser by Constable Van Den Deipstraten, Posteraro and Nicolle. She was handcuffed to the back. The handcuffs were incredibly tight and Sherry was injured. Sherry’s phone was knocked out of her hand during her arrest. One of the Defendant police officers deliberately and maliciously stepped on the phone and destroyed it. This officer destroyed material evidence and acted with the intention of doing so.

Dan’s charges - two counts of assaulting a peace officer and two counts of resisting arrest, and Sherry’s charges of obstructing a peace officer and assaulting a peace officer, would later be dropped by a judge in the Ontario Court of Justice.

Sherry’s son, then 18 year old Daniel Campbell, having witnessed the incident that caused damage to the Tree Men vehicle had begun taking photographs, as directed by his mom, for insurance purposes. As the events spiraled out of control that afternoon Daniel continued to collect images. Daniel was advised to attend the OPP station later that day. He thought he was going to be asked to provide a statement. Instead, as reports indicate, Constable Nicolle advised Daniel that taking pictures of the Vanderloo and Wagner vehicle could be interpreted as criminal harassment and Daniel was pressured to delete all the days photo’s from his cell phone.

Perhaps it is most poignant that the judge’s final decision to drop all charges against the Knox family was thanks to the efforts of the Vanderloos cell phone video of the tasing incident. Such occurrences in policing behaviour are becoming more common. Video’s captured on cell phones or surveillance camera’s turn up presenting pretty indisputable chain of events footage. In Dan’s situation various accounts indicate that he was acting like a “madman” “cursing” “aggressive” and kicked the officers after he had been tased. The video demonstrates otherwise.

Charney believes that the prevalence of video and social media has not exposed a new trend in policing but rather has captured the realities of policing culture in Canada. Of the approach employed by the OPP on June 11th, 2014, Charney thinks it’s anything but extraordinary.

“What we saw with this incident isn’t an example of cops that are ‘rogue officers’. This is a systemic problem. This isn’t one incident in one place that we are seeing excessive force or a misguided, negligent investigation,” commented Charney. “The use of excessive force is part of police culture. That’s how they are trained and that’s how the culture within the police force directs them. They are trained to use force much more so than being trained not to use force. They should be relying more on their abilities to negotiate, deescalate, to treat people humanely and with dignity. That would avoid the escalation which sometimes leads to tragic consequences.”

One of the most controversial issues in Canada – as in all of North America, is the use of police force against racial minorities. However, there is little empirical evidence regarding the use of force by police in Canada and whether or not force is applied against minorities with greater frequency.

Publicized shootings in Ontario and Quebec including Sammy Yatim, Allen Gosset, Sophia Cook, Dudley George, Jeffrey Roedica, Lester Donaldson, Buddy Evans, Wade Lawson and Marlon Neal, raise the point that closer examination of the use of police force is overdue and also indicates an uncomfortable level of comfort in the use of force among police.

As Charney points out during his interview, there is not one entity in Ontario or Canada that keeps statistics of the number of people killed by police. “That’s all part of the problem,” says Charney. “Lack of police accountability gives police the license to use force, sometimes unlawfully.”

America may be slightly ahead of Canada when it comes to addressing the practice of excessive police force. The Obama administration recently released reform recommendations that “encourages officers to work harder to explain why they are being stopped, questioned or arrested. The report implies that more training, diversity and communication will lead to enhanced police community relations, more effective crime control and greater police legitimacy.”

Dan is pretty reflective about the nations policing culture stating, “Much has been made recently that police brutality no longer consists of simple, isolated incidents but, rather, endemic throughout Canada and the U.S. Our freedom is a threat, under siege from the same people sworn to uphold it. Locally we are in trouble because it’s not merely a few bad apples, it’s the whole damn bushel of Sault Ste. Marie and area’s OPP. Top to bottom, bottom to top!”

In Sault Ste. Marie, police have a special relationship with the mainstream media. The release of names and personal information of people charged by police to the media is hardly a new thing. In fact it’s getting pretty old and some publications are refusing to participate in the naming and shaming game.

Dan was quite aware of the police practice as well as the media’s eagerness to pick up police logs and publish the information as newsworthy items. Before leaving the station after his release the evening of June 11th, 2014, he begged the supervising officer to keep what had happened out of the news. Later that evening the details of the day hit the local media as well as the next day and the day after that. Details of the family’s arrest even ran on a local radio station parallel to their own Tree Men ad.

In the first week following the publicized arrest Dan absorbed $10,000 worth of cancelled jobs and an unknown amount of bucks from people just not calling at all. More so Dan’s reputation as was his family’s, was tarnished and the experience was humiliating. Add to that Dan’s frustration from not being able to tell his side of the story – “the truth”, he says. “In fact I wish that it would have gone to court because we could have spoken. We would have done well in court.”

Dan has been haunted by the portrayal of his family in the media. “To have my kids assaulted by the police and then lied about… I had to watch Van Den Diepstraten put my crying daughter in the back of his SUV after he and his cohorts assaulted her three or four feet away from me while I helplessly watched. And Harrison is gentle and gentlemanly. He is the youngest certified arborist in Canadian history. Apprentice at 13 years old, crew leader and foreman at 20 years old and college instructor at 23 years old.” There’s a tremble in Dan’s voice. “So many people think we are pieces of shit. We’re not. This has worn me out so much.”

http://northernhoot.com/sault-business-man-opp-lawsuit/
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Re: Twice Tased Man Pursues $2 Million Lawsuit Against OPP

Postby Gkuke » Fri Jan 15, 2016 4:17 pm

This story and video turns my stomach. I am fully aware of this kind of shit by the OPP. This kind of illegal conduct is also very prevalent in the Peterborough area. I would love to know how much these gang of thugs cost the taxpayers when you add their, over $100,000.00 wage, to all of the civil lawsuits that are paid out and on top of that the millions that they cost us taxpayers in all of the bogus court proceedings.

I am glad to see that Charney Law personally named this garbage so they can be held personally liable. I hope this suit carries on to the point that the judge makes these cops pay punitive damages themselves. I want to remind all of you mindless people that think this is about money; This guy is risking a huge loss himself by suing these cops and if he doesn't sue, these cops walk away and will not be held accountable, further justifying their illegal acts and promoting further acts.

Accountability should not be payed for out of the private persons pockets, it should be paid for by the taxpayer but the government is more interested in painting a rose coloured picture and therefore puts bogus organizations in place to make you think there is accountability.

Why do people report anything to the OIPRD? It is well known that they will protect the garbage cops that are out there. If you make a complaint to this bullshit organization, they will always rule in the cops favour. The OIPRD is a kangaroo court that is set up to make the naive public believe there is accountability, another huge waste of taxpayer money. If Mr. Knox was killed by the garbage cops, it would then be the SIU investigating and they would also find the cops not liable for their illegal conduct. The SIU is another huge waste of taxpayer money. If the public is concerned about taxes being wasted then don't give the OIPRD any work. Boycott the OIPRD and save money!

DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME MAKING A COMPLAINT, THE RESULT WILL JUST SICKEN YOU AND JUSTIFY THEIR CONDUCT.

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Lawsuit Against OPP Sparks Debate

Postby Thomas » Fri Jan 22, 2016 3:10 am

Although it will ultimately be decided by a jury in civil court, sides are already being taken on Facebook and in the community in regard to whether OPP officers were within their rights to taser a local man in a parking lot at the junction of Highway 17 and Highway 556 in Heyden on July 11, 2014.

Dan Knox, owner of Tree Men & a Chainsaw Ltd and the man who was tasered, and three members of his family, his son Harrison Knox, daughter Sherry Cole and grandson Daniel Campbell, have launched a $2 million lawsuit against the OPP and five of its officers, Constables Luigi Bruni, Keith Nicole, Mario Posteraro, Peter Van Den Diepstraten and Sgt. Ken Spahr, as a result of actions taken by the officers that day.

Steffanie Petroni of Northern Hoot published a story on Jan. 9 about the lawsuit, which was filed on Dec. 23, 2015, that had its genesis in a citizen's arrest of some of Knox's family members, who also happened to be his employees. that appeared to go horribly wrong.

Petroni also included a video of Knox's tasering taken by one of the people involved in the citizen's arrest, as well as a copy of the statement of claim.

Reached Friday, an OPP spokesman said it would be inappropriate to comment on the case because it is before litigation.

The video has been posted to Facebook and the Norther Hoot site, which naturally evoked discussion of the actions taken by both Knox and the two officers who were on the scene at the time of the tasering.

According to the statement of claim, it all began when Cindy Wagner and Wendy Grenier observed a red truck pass another vehicle, allegedly forcing an oncoming vehicle off the road to avoid a collision.

When they spotted the red truck in the parking lot at Heyden, they blocked it from moving forward and, according to the statement of claim, persuaded John Vanderloo Sr. and John Vanderloo Jr. to block it from moving backward.

An altercation occurred, the Tree Men vehicle was allegedly damaged, and police were called.

Knox, called to the scene by his son, Harrison, apparently opened the door of a police cruiser shortly after arriving to speak with Harrison, who was inside handcuffed.
He was ordered away from the cruiser by one of the officers and told to get down on the ground, that he was under arrest.

This is where the video begins.

In it Knox is admittedly, according to the statement of claim filed by his lawyer, Davin Charney of Toronto, passively resisting as the video does show him walking about with his hands in his pockets, all the while with the officer aiming his taser at him.

From my take of the video, the officer eventually orders Knox to turn around, facing away from him, and Knox does. That is when he is tasered in the back. He drops to one knee, then rolls onto the ground. He is shortly tasered again as he seems to try to get up. He is then handcuffed.

Some say none of this would have happened if Knox had not opened the door of the cruiser and if he had gone to ground as originally ordered. They are probably right.

But others see the officers' actions as excessive.

I am with the latter.

Two of the Tree Men people, Calvin Lynn, the driver of the red truck, and Harrison Knox, were already in handcuffs by the time Knox and his daughter, Sherry, arrived on the scene. Lynn was arrested on a charge of dangerous driving and Harrison on a charge of assault.

That, for a start, seems to be over the top.

And in regard to Knox, surely the owner of a business should be able to engage in a discussion with police without being immediately arrested, even if he had opened the door of a cruiser.

After all, this is Canada, not Russia.

I have watched the video of the incident at Heyden several times. And each time I come to the same conclusion, that I probably would have acted as Knox did.

He not only had his employees involved; he had his family involved.

If this had happened to some of my people when I was editor of The Sault Star or if it concerned members of my family, I would have been there as quickly as I could. If I had been told to lie down as I was under arrest, I probably would have protested more loudly and aggressively than Knox did.

After all, Sec. 9 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms says citizens of this country have the right not to be arbitrarily obtained or imprisoned. However, I realize invoking that clause will only work if the officers involved have actually read the Charter.

As a result of the debacle, Daniel Knox was charged with two counts of assaulting a peace officer and two counts of resisting arrest. Sherry Cole was charged with obstructing a peace officer and assaulting a peace officer. Harrison Knox was charged with dangerous driving and assault. Calvin Lynn was charged with dangerous driving and resisting a peace officer.

None of the cases went to trial.

A story on SooToday in December 2014 said all charges against all the accused were withdrawn by the Crown. It didn't say why. Nor did the statement of claim, which said the charges were withdrawn on Oct. 20 at the request of the Crown.

So I will guess.

First off I would say the Crown realized it didn't have a case, that the actions of the officers would be ripped apart by an aggressive defence counsel.

Alternatively, it could be that OPP officers of much higher rank and with more experience, having seen the video, had come to the conclusion that the only result of taking the charges to trial would be a black eye for the force.

The statement of claim acknowledges there was a confrontation, indeed a physical altercation, between members of the two parties involved as a result of the attempted citizens' arrest.

But as there was damage to Tree Men truck, they also probably would be wondering why there were only charges on one side.

And I imagine the senior officers would also be wondering how what should have been a discussion with Knox about the problems his people faced had degenerated so quickly to the point that he was tasered.

The statement of claim alleges the OPP officers destroyed Cole's phone deliberately and deleted pictures of the damage to the Treemen truck from the phone of her son, Daniel Campbell, when he went to the OPP detachment to offer himself as a witness.

The plaintiffs are seeking $1.5 million in general damages for negligence, assault, battery, false arrest, false imprisonment, trespass to property, misfeasance of public office and malicious breach of public duty.

They are also looking for $250,000 for breaches of Sections 7, 8 and 9 of the Charter and $250,000 in aggravated and punitive damages.

Doug Millroy, editor emeritus of The Sault Star, can be reached at millroy@shaw.ca.
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Sault Ste. Marie family seeks $2M after alleged assault by O

Postby Thomas » Wed Feb 09, 2022 5:12 pm

Sault Ste. Marie family seeks $2M after alleged assault by OPP members

Family members initially arrested with charges dropped later on

A civil court case involving a Sault Ste. Marie business owner and his family and the Ontario Provincial Police has started.

The case involves Daniel Knox, his daughter Sherry Cole and son Harrison Knox. They allege they were unlawfully arrested and assaulted by members of the OPP.

The case started in court on Monday and is being presided over by Justice Edward Gareau.

According to a statement of claim, the family is seeking $1.5 million in general damages. They are also seeking $250,000 for breaches of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as $250,000 for punitive damages.

The officers named in the claim are Constable Luigi Bruni, Constable Mario Posteraro, Constable Peter Van Den Diepstraten, Constable Keith Nicolle and Sergeant Ken Spahr.

On June 11, 2014, OPP were called after a traffic complaint involving a vehicle owned by Daniel Knox's company, Treemen & A Chainsaw company.

It happened around 12:30 p.m. on Highway 17 in Aweres Township, north of Sault Ste. Marie.

According to the statement of claim, OPP were called after the company vehicle passed another vehicle, causing an oncoming vehicle to move off the road to avoid a collision. The statement said the company vehicle stopped and the people who phoned the police parked in front of them, blocking them in. The statement said the situation escalated and an assault took place.

Daniel Knox was the first and only person to testify on Monday.

Knox said on that day, he was having lunch when he got a call from his son, Harrison, who said his equipment truck had been blocked in by two vehicles and he didn't know the drivers.

He then got a call from his grandson who said Harrison had been arrested and was in the back of a police vehicle.

Knox testified he got to the scene and saw his son in the back of a police vehicle. He opened the door of the car and said a blast of heat "like from a furnace oven" hit him. At this time, he said there was a police officer nearby yelling for him to get to the ground but he said he didn't know why.

'Terrifying shock'

Court heard the two officers who initially responded were Constable Posteraro and Constable Nicolle.

Part of the incident was videotaped, which was shown in court.

Daniel Knox testified that Constable Posteraro pointed a stun gun, or Taser at him, before the device was used twice on him.

Knox said he felt much pain from being Tasered and said it felt like a "continuous jolt of electricity going through his body."

"A terrifying shock that just dropped me to the ground," he said.

Knox also testified he was kicked in the leg between 15 and 20 times by Constable Luigi Bruni.

His daughter, Sherry Cole, was seen in the video pushing down Constable Posteraro, who Tasered her father. Cole was arrested and charged with obstructing a peace office. Knox told the court Cole had been grabbed, pushed and treated with excessive force by police.

Charges dropped

Knox testified he was then held in a soundproof room at the OPP building for three to four hours.

In December 2014, the charges were dropped against Knox, his son Harrison, his daughter Sherry Cole and an employee who was also charged during the incident.

Knox said the incident hurt his business. He said several customers cancelled jobs afterwards. Knox said one client told him he read about what happened and decided he didn't want to do business with the company.

Knox added the incident has also impacted his health.

"The day before, I felt good. The day after, I felt terrible," he said.

A cross-examination of Knox will take place Tuesday morning.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sudbury/ ... -1.6342809
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Civil trial involving OPP begins today, eight years after in

Postby Thomas » Wed Feb 09, 2022 5:12 pm

Civil trial involving OPP begins today, eight years after incident at centre of case

A civil trial, scheduled to begin today, at the Sault Ste. Marie courthouse, stems from an aggressive driving complaint eight years ago.

Superior Court Justice Edward Gareau is hearing the lawsuit, launched by a local family, which is seeking $2 million in damages from the Ontario Provincial Police and provincial government.

Three weeks have been set aside to hear the case.

In a statement of claim, filed in 2016 and amended in 2017, Daniel Knox, his daughter Sherry Cole and son Harrison Knox allege they were unlawfully arrested and assaulted by OPP officers on June 11, 2014.

The statement of claim has not been proven in court.

In a news release, the the plaintiffs' lawyer Darvin Charney said the senior Knox was tasered twice during the incident.

Some of the taser use was caught on video, the Toronto attorney said.

Knox and his family members, along with another man, were arrested after what the OPP described as an altercation following the driving complaint.

The incident occurred at the intersection of Highway 17 north and Highway 556.

It was alleged that a northbound red pickup truck pulled into oncoming traffic and began to pass, forcing a grey SUV to take evasive action to avoid a collision.

A truck that was being passed by the pickup, and a second truck behind it, also had to take evasive action, the OPP reported at the time.

Vehicles involved in the situation pulled into a parking lot at the intersection of the two highways.

An altercation erupted, police were called and charges were laid.

Daniel Knox was charged with obstructing police and two counts each of assaulting police and resisting arrest.

Sherry Cole faced a count of obstructing police, while her brother Harrison Knox was charged with dangerous operation and assault.

In December 2014, it was reported that the charges against the four people had been withdrawn.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are claiming general damages of $1.5 million for negligence, assault, battery and false arrest.

In addition, or as an alternative, they are seeking $250,000 for breaches of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and $250,000 in punitive damages.

The defendants named in the suit are five OPP officers -- Const. Luigi Bruni, Const. Keith Nicolle, Const. Mario Posteraro, Const. Peter Van Den Diepstraten and Sgt. Ken Spahr -- and the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

https://www.sootoday.com/local-news/civ ... se-5034876
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Civil case alleging wrongdoing with OPP in Sault Ste. Marie

Postby Thomas » Sun Feb 13, 2022 4:39 pm

Harrison Knox testified he still suffers from injuries after an incident with police in 2014

A second person involved in a civil lawsuit, alleging assault and wrongful arrest by the Ontario Provincial Police, said he is still injured from the incident.

Daniel Knox, his daughter Sherry Cole and son Harrison Knox, are seeking $1.5 million in damages. They are also seeking $250,000 for breaches of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as $250,000 for punitive damages.

All of them and another employee were charged with various charges, including assault, resisting arrest and obstructing police. They were all withdrawn.

The officers named in the claim are Constable Luigi Bruni, Constable Mario Posteraro, Constable Peter Van Den Diepstraten, Constable Keith Nicolle and Sergeant Ken Spahr.

On Thursday, Harrison Knox testified.

In a statement of claim, it said the OPP were called on June 22, 2014, after a traffic complaint involving a vehicle owned by Daniel Knox's company, Treeman & A Chainsaw. Harrison works as a crew leader for the company.

Harrison testified he was driving a company truck and another worker was following him in a separate vehicle. He said they pulled into a parking lot north of the city to park one of the trucks there for a future job, before heading to the next job.

Harrison said when he parked the truck in the lot, a truck pulled in front of his vehicle and an SUV pulled in behind him, blocking him in.

He said he went to ask two women in one vehicle why they were blocking him in.

"They just kept screaming at me," he said.

He attempted to drive away and couldn't so he said he got back out of the vehicle. He told the men in the other vehicle to move their vehicle.

'Really warm'

Harrison said one men got out and Harrison said he tried to push him away. From there, he said the men moved their vehicle. Harrison said he tried to drive away and his vehicle was damaged by the other vehicle.

Harrison said he then phoned his father, Daniel. He said the people who blocked him in told him police were on the way.

Harrison said when police arrived, they spoke with the other people on scene. He said when an officer approached him, he was told he was under arrest for dangerous driving and assault.

From there, he was handcuffed and put in the back of a police cruiser. He said the handcuffs were tight and hurt him. He said the cruiser was "warm enough for sweat" to be pouring into his eyes.

"I'm not one to sweat too easily," he said. "The car was off. There was no air conditioning and the windows were rolled up. It seemed really warm."

His father, Daniel, showed up and opened the police cruiser door. Harrison said he heard someone yell to get away from the vehicle and get on the ground.

He said he saw Constable Keith Nicolle grab his father and at that point, he stood up outside of the police car.

"I wanted to see what was going on with my dad. I was kind of concerned for him," he said.

"I was feeling helpless and concerned for my dad."

'Never been the same'
Harrison was told to get back in the vehicle, which he did. He then saw his father get hit with a stun gun, or Taser, twice by police. He also said his dad was kicked in the legs by police and put in the back of a different police car.

Harrison was then taken to the police station. He said he asked Constable Posteraro if his handcuffs could be adjusted as they were hurting him but was told that could wait until the station.

He said at first, his right wrist hurt constantly, but started to get a bit better after a few months but never fully improved.

"It has never been the same since," he said.

"When I'm lifting things on certain angles, it's excruciating."

Harrison said he still has flareups today and said the strength in that wrist is about 75 per cent of what it used to be.

The case is scheduled to continue on Friday.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sudbury/ ... -1.6347077
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Defence starts to present evidence in civil case alleging as

Postby Thomas » Fri Mar 04, 2022 9:27 am

Defence starts to present evidence in civil case alleging assault by Sault OPP

Sault-area family seeking $2 million in damages

The defence has started calling its witnesses in a civil case alleging wrongful arrest and assault by members of the OPP in Sault Ste. Marie.

Daniel Knox, his son Harrison Knox and daughter Sherry Cole, are seeking $1.5 million in damages in the civil lawsuit. They are also looking for $250,000 for breaches of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as $250,000 for punitive damages.

It's related to an incident that happened on June 11, 2014. OPP were called for a traffic complaint involving a vehicle owned by Daniel Knox's company, Treemen & A Chainsaw. The vehicle was being driven by Harrison Knox.

All three family members and another employee of the company were charged with various offences, including assault, resisting arrest and obstructing police. All charges were withdrawn later in 2014.

The officers named in the claim are Constable Luigi Bruni, Constable Mario Posteraro, Constable Peter Van Den Diepstraten, Constable Keith Nicolle and Sergeant Ken Spahr.

On Friday, Cindy Grenier testified. She and her mother phoned the police about the traffic complaint.

Grenier said they were driving home on Highway 17 north of Sault Ste. Marie, when they saw a red truck veer out into oncoming traffic to pass a vehicle. She said vehicles heading in the other direction had to brake and go on the side of the road to avoid a collision. She also said the vehicle that was passed had to move off to the side as well.

Grenier said they followed the truck as it pulled into a parking lot, along with another vehicle that the company truck passed on the highway. She said they put their vehicle in front of the truck, with the intention of trying to keep them off the road, get the licence plate and phone police.

Grenier said she got out and asked the men in the company truck what was going on. She said she told them they almost caused a collision. She said her mother phoned 911.

She said she then spoke with the driver who was passed and she said she asked them to block in the company vehicle from the back, which she said they did.

"I just didn't want them leaving until the police got there because I thought there was something wrong with them," she said.

"I just thought it was the right thing to do at the time. I didn't want them to cause an accident elsewhere."

'Everybody was upset'

She said she got back in her vehicle. She said the men in the company truck and the men in the other vehicle yelled at each other. She said the driver of the company truck got into his truck and hit her vehicle and the one behind him.

Grenier said police arrived and she saw them arrest the driver of the company vehicle, Harrison Knox, and put him in the back of a cruiser.

Not long after that, Grenier said she saw Daniel Knox and his daughter, Sherry Cole, arrive. She said she saw Knox open the police cruiser where his son Harrison was inside. At that point, she said she heard an officer yelling for Knox to not open the door and to stop.

She said she saw Daniel Knox push an officer.

"Everybody was upset and angry," she said. "Everybody was just arguing."

Knox testified earlier in the trial he was hit with a stun gun, or Taser, twice by police. Grenier said she didn't see that happen but said she saw police putting him in a cruiser not long after.

"It looked like a struggle to get him in there," she said.

"It looked like [Knox] was trying to fight to get in there, maybe trying to resist a little. It looked like they were having a hard time getting him in the car."

The case is scheduled to resume Oct. 3.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sudbury/ ... -1.6357049
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Civil trial alleging OPP assault in 2014 to resume in Octobe

Postby Thomas » Sat Apr 16, 2022 9:10 am

After seven days of testimony, the trial was adjourned

A civil case, involving a local businessman, his family, and the Ontario Provincial Police, will resume in October at the Sault Ste. Marie courthouse.

Superior Court Justice Edward Gareau began hearing the lawsuit, which stems from an aggressive driving complaint eight years ago, in February.

After seven days of testimony, the trial was adjourned until Oct. 3 when it will resume for two weeks.

The June 11, 2014 incident involved a vehicle owned by Daniel Knox's company Tree Men and a Chainsaw.

Knox, his son Harrison, who was driving the vehicle, and daughter Sherry Cole are seeking $2 million in damages from the OPP and the provincial government.

In their statement of claim, the family alleges they were unlawfully arrested and assaulted by the police officers.

The senior Knox was tasered twice, his lawyer Darvin Charney said in a press release just before the trial began.

Some of the events, including the taser use, were captured on video, he said.

The plaintiffs' statement of claim has not been proven in court.

The defendants - five OPP officers and the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services - in their statement of defence denied all the allegations of assault, battery, false arrest and excessive use of force made by the plaintiffs.

They claimed the force used to arrest the plaintiffs was reasonable and a direct result of the plaintiffs' conduct.

The senior Knox and Cole were aggressive, belligerent, confrontational, violent and non-compliant with officers at the scene and resisted arrest, the defendants said in their statement.

Knox, his family members and another man were arrested after what the OPP described as an altercation following the driving complaint.

The incident occurred north of the Sault at the intersection of Highway 17 and Highway 556.

It was alleged that a northbound red pickup pulled into oncoming traffic and began to pass, forcing a grey SUV to take evasive action to avoid a collision.

A truck that was being passed by the pickup, and a second truck following it, also had to take evasive action, the OPP reported at the time.

The involved vehicles pulled into a parking lot at the the intersection of the two highways.

Police were called when an altercation erupted and charges were laid.

Daniel Knox, his son and daughter, along with the other man, were charged with various offences, including assault, resisting arrest and obstructing police.

In December 2014, it was reported that the charges had been withdrawn.

This occurred on Oct. 20, 2014 at which time Harrison Knox was placed on a common law peace bond in exchange for withdrawal of the assault and dangerous driving charges he faced.

Daniel Knox and Sherry Cole had their obstruct and assault charges diverted and each agreed to make $100 donations to charity.

The plaintiffs are claiming general damages of $1.5 million for negligence, assault, battery and false arrest.

In addition, or as an alternative, they are seeking $250,000 for breaches of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and $250,000 in punitive damages.

OPP officers - Const. Luigi Bruni, Const. Mario Posteraro, Const. Peter Van Den Diepstraten, Const. Keith Nicolle and Sgt. Ken Spahr - along with the community services and correctional services ministry are named in the suit.

https://www.sootoday.com/local-news/civ ... er-5249727
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