Civil suit continues
Couple vows to continue fight against regional police
While feeling vindicated by a decision of the Nova Scotia Police Review Board, Stephanie Bonner said her battle with Cape Breton Regional Police is far from over.
The review board concluded that Const. John Campbell was guilty on three counts of discreditable conduct in his dealings with Bonner and fiancé Edward O’Quinn. Complaints against two other officers, Supt. Walter Rutherford and Const. Donald Reginato, were dismissed.
“The decision is not to my total satisfaction but I do feel it represents what I was trying to argue,” said Bonner, who along with O’Quinn represented themselves in a weeklong review board hearing in Sydney earlier this year.
Bonner said it has been a struggle to get to this point in trying to have to her complaints against regional police dealt with since 2011.
“So much money has been spent by both sides. I became ill because of this and it is very hard to keep going forward because we keep hitting bricks walls,” she said.
However, Bonner and O’Quinn are continuing with their civil suit against the department and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.
“I feel it is important to fight for what you believe is right. There is no turning back now. We want to be compensated for what they did to our lives,” said Bonner.
She said the review board decision only scratched the surface of the complaints the couple have involving police but the civil suit will offer additional details not heard by the review board.
As noted in the review board decision, some of the issues raised by the couple were not addressed because the complaint had not been filed within a six-month timeframe.
In its decision, the board said it was unfortunate that Bonner, of North Sydney, was not made aware of deadline and urged police forces across the province to ensure anyone who has a complaint, is given all information on the process.
“This decision has given us some sense of justice but we will continue onward,” said Bonner.
The complaints flow from a property dispute between Bonner and former neighbours, Ralph and Elizabeth Campbell, the uncle and aunt of Const. John Campbell.
The board ruled:
• Const. Campbell was guilty of discreditable conduct by calling Bonner a “douche bag” or saying “you’re dead.”
• Campbell was also guilty of discreditable conduct in commenting “they’re probably outside slashing my tires” after a night court proceeding involving a peace bond application between he and Bonner. The recording equipment in the court recorded the comment that was made after Bonner left the court.
• Campbell was also guilty of discreditable conduct by deliberatly moving his vehicle in a confrontational manner towards O’Quinn.
Campbell was already disciplined internally for his conduct with a letter of reprimand and an order to complete an ethics and accountability course. He filed an appeal with the board of the discipline and was denied.
In its decision, the review board noted that while Campbell may be a competent police officer, “his personal relationship with Ralph and Elizabeth Campbell significantly fueled his attitude and coloured his actions toward both Ms. Bonner and Mr. O’Quinn.”
The board found that Campbell should have removed himself entirely from the issue.
The dispute was over a rightof-way on property Bonner purchased in 2011 on Crestdale Drive in Sydney Forks.
Both sets of neighbours filed a series of complaints with police against each other, ranging from speeding on the right-of-way to the removal of a roadside garbage box. The dispute progressed from lawyer letters to peace bond applications and eventually criminal charges of mischief and criminal harassment on the part of Bonner and O’Quinn, of which they were acquitted after a provincial court trial.
Bonner and O’Quinn have since sold their home on Crestdale Drive and the Campbells have installed their own driveway.
The board did not award costs in the case and all sides have until Aug. 11 to make submissions on what penalty Campbell should receive.