Saturday, October 29, 2011

Windsor Mayor Concerned About Police Brutality Lawsuit and Claims of a Cover-Up

This week the Windsor Star reported that Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis has publicly expressed his concerns about the integrity and accountability of the Windsor Police Force in response to allegations that officers attempted to cover up the brutal assault of local doctor Tyceer Abouhassan. When asked about the allegations contained in a $14.2 million lawsuit filed in the Superior Court on September 29, Mayor Francis replied, “I am not happy” and “I would share the fact that I do have concerns”. Abouhassan claims that on April 22, 2010, he was minding his own business while jogging from the train station to the Jackson Park Medical Centre in Windsor when he was approached by a man that later turned out to be Det. David Van Buskirk. The officer was not dressed in uniform and at no time identified himself as a police officer.

After accusing Abouhassan of harassing a young girl in the park, Van Buskirk apparently proceeded to break Abouhassan’s nose, detach his retina and give the doctor a concussion. The Statement of Claim states that when Abouhassan regained consciousness, he overheard Van Buskirk reporting that an officer had been assaulted and requesting a prisoner transport vehicle and ambulance. Van Buskirk then searched Abouhassan’s back-pack and continued to detain the doctor before an ambulance arrived to transport him to the emergency room at Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital.

The lawsuit asserts that after Van Buskirk realized his mistake about the culprit’s identity, he knowingly provided a false occurrence report to justify the illegal assault, detention and search of Dr. Abouhassan and that other officers backed up Van Buskirk’s claim that Abouhassan attacked him first. However, video surveillance and eye-witness accounts corroborated Abouhassan’s description. Additionally, two Windsor Police Officers, Det. Sgt. Patrick Keane and Det. Sgt. Paul Bridgeman, contacted Abouhassan’s criminal lawyer on separate occasions in an attempt to broker a deal to withdraw the assault charge against Abouhassan if he did not file a formal complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) or pursue criminal charges against Van Buskirk. After Abouhassan refused the two offers to broker a deal, an Information was sworn against him by Det. Kent McMillan.

The Statement of Claim reports that Abouhassan subsequently filed complaints with the OIPRD alleging misconduct on the part of Van Buskirk, Bridgeman and Keane, and that ultimately the OIPRD made findings against Van Buskirk for discreditable conduct, excessive use of force and unlawful arrest and deceit under the Police Services Act. McMillan was found to have committed discreditable conduct and deceit, and Bridgeman discreditable conduct and neglect of duty. 

Mayor Francis, who heads the Police Services Board, indicated “many people are forming their opinions and are concerned” about what occurred. However, the Mayor could not comment more than that until the matter makes its way through the courts.

Van Buskirk was charged criminally with assault causing bodily harm and public mischief.  Meanwhile, the charges against Abouhassan were stayed by the Crown on June 15, 2010. Police Chief Gary Smith, who is also named in the lawsuit, said on Thursday that the Force “has been as open and honest as possible” since the allegations arose. While he too is concerned about the Force’s reputation in light of these events, the Chief urged the public not to lose confidence in or pass judgment on the rest of the police service “based on the actions of some”.

Posted by Jeremy Tatum (Windsor Law III)

No comments:

Post a Comment