Nine RCMP officers are facing a lawsuit from a northern BC gay man who says they brutally assaulted him and discriminated against him on the basis of his sexuality.
Shane Parker alleges the police officers assaulted him twice — once on June 19 and again on Aug 7 when he asked them why people were being arrested outside a nightclub in Terrace.
“He’s been obviously mentally and physically traumatized by what happened, and he is seeing the appropriate medical people for treatment,” Parker’s lawyer, Terrance Hudson, tells Xtra.
Parker’s statement of claim, filed in Smithers Supreme Court on Feb 2 by Hudson, says the assaults gave him a concussion, strangulation-related injuries and soft-tissue damage.
The claim alleges officer Chad King struck Parker twice in the face and then threw him to the ground and injured his ribs with a knee on June 19.
Parker alleges King then pepper sprayed him, wrongfully arrested him and kept him in a police car despite his need for medical attention.
Parker also alleges officer Trevor Mack assaulted him outside the nightclub and again at the Terrace detachment while Parker was in handcuffs.
He also alleges officer Kendra Felkar assaulted him by hitting him in the groin five times and that Cpl Travis De Coene struck him three times as he was being removed from a police car while handcuffed. He claims the officer further struck him in the head and face while he was semi-conscious on the ground in a detachment vehicle bay.
Parker alleges he was wrongfully arrested and that charges of obstruction and assaulting an officer were improperly recommended to Crown prosecutors.
On Aug 7, Parker alleges, he was again assaulted outside the club by Const Isaac Couture, De Coene, officer Richard McRae and Const Brian Heideman. He further alleges the other officers named in the suit aggravated the situation by allowing the assaults to occur and not seeking medical assistance.
Parker alleges the police acted with malice, owing to his sexuality. He says police wanted to intimidate and coerce him into silence.
The allegations have yet to be proven in court, and the officers have yet to file their statement of defence.
The minister of public safety and solicitor general of BC are also named in the action.
Parker is seeking general, special, aggravated and punitive damages as well as costs of care. He is also seeking damages for violations of his Charter rights.
Prosecutors have already approved criminal charges against Parker for assaulting and obstructing police for the Aug 7 incident, Hudson says. Parker is due to face those charges on Feb 24.
Hudson says the Crown refused to approve charges related to the June incident. But, he adds, Staff Sgt Rob Pritchett of the Terrace RCMP is now attempting to lay a private charge on the June incident.
Hudson says he wants documents related to that charge released by police.
Parker’s suit alleges the charges are an attempt to cover up “the defendants’ assault, battery and torture.”
Hudson stresses the primary issue is the alleged extreme use of force by police. “I wish to be clear; while Mr Parker is gay, the allegation of mistreatment due to his sexuality is only a small component of this claim,” Hudson notes.
“It is Mr Parker’s view that the officers made effeminate gestures towards him, which leads him to believe that they were, at least in part, treating him differently due to his sexual orientation,” Hudson explains. “It will very much be Mr Parker’s word against the officers’ word with regard to this aspect of the claim, as they will likely deny it in its entirety.”
The defendants have 21 days after being served with the claim to respond to the allegations.
Hudson says the officers were only served with the documents on Feb 10.
In a prepared statement for Xtra, RCMP Sgt Rob Vermeulen acknowledges both the lawsuit against the officers and the criminal case against Parker.
“I think we need to be respectful of these court processes and the rights of both our members and Mr Parker to a fair trial,” Vermeulen says. “To make public comment at this point through the media would be inappropriate and disrespectful to the courts.”
The Parker case is mentioned specifically in the BC Civil Liberties Association’s Small Town Justice report released on Feb 8.
BCCLA investigators toured northern and interior towns to discuss RCMP issues. “There were no communities in which the allegations made were as troubling, as widespread, as profound, or as unsettling as the allegations made by the members of the public who we met with in Terrace,” the report says. “Allegations of racism, excessive force, abuse of authority, reckless and negligent conduct and illegal searches were repeated many times.”