Man sues Brant­ford po­lice, board

Philip Alafe con­tends he was left naked and in pain in cell overnight, be­came sui­ci­dal

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - PAOLA LORIGGIO

A man who claims he was de­prived of med­i­cal care and left naked in an On­tario jail cell overnight two years ago has filed a law­suit against sev­eral Brant­ford po­lice of­fi­cers, al­leg­ing they treated him dif­fer­ently be­cause of his race.

The law­suit filed by Philip Alafe also names Brant­ford Po­lice Chief Ge­off Nel­son and the Brant­ford Po­lice Ser­vices Board as de­fen­dants, say­ing they are re­spon­si­ble for the ac­tions of of­fi­cers on the force.

Alafe, 27, is seek­ing $2.5 mil­lion in dam­ages, al­leg­ing the of­fi­cers abused their power and used ex­ces­sive force, and the chief and board were neg­li­gent in their over­sight.

The Toronto man, who was born in Nigeria and came to Canada in 2010, was ar­rested on July 3, 2015, on charges re­lated to an al­leged dan­ger­ous driv­ing in­ci­dent that the claim says he be­lieved had been with­drawn.

An On­tario judge stayed the crim­i­nal charges against him ear­lier this year af­ter find­ing that the of­fi­cers in­volved had treated him egre­giously and breached his con­sti­tu­tional rights.

The al­le­ga­tions laid out in Alafe’s law­suit have not been proven in court and a state­ment of de­fence has not yet been filed.

Nei­ther the force nor the board could im­me­di­ately be reached for com­ment.

In his state­ment of claim, Alafe says he suf­fers from sickle cell ane­mia, a con­gen­i­tal con­di­tion that causes chronic pain and fa­tigue and can lead to the death of tis­sue due to lack of blood sup­ply.

Episodes of acute pain are of­ten trig­gered by cold and stress, among other things, and re­quire hos­pi­tal­iza­tion, the doc­u­ment says. Alafe re­quires reg­u­lar treat­ment and “sig­nif­i­cant doses” of med­i­ca­tion, in­clud­ing painkillers, anti-in­flam­ma­tory drugs and mus­cle re­lax­ants, the claim says.

“With­out th­ese med­i­ca­tions, even for a short pe­riod of time, his pain be­comes un­bear­able,” the claim says.

Alafe al­leges the of­fi­cers took away his med­i­ca­tion and re­fused or ig­nored his mul­ti­ple re­quests for med­i­cal at­ten­tion, al­low­ing him only two tablets over the course of the night — far less than the pre­scribed amount. “At all ma­te­rial times over the course of that night and morn­ing, the plain­tiff con­tin­ued to be in ex­treme pain due to his sickle cell dis­ease,” the state­ment of claim al­leges.

In­stead of call­ing a doc­tor or tak­ing him to hos­pi­tal, the of­fi­cers “ma­li­ciously, in­ten­tion­ally, un­law­fully and/or with­out jus­ti­fi­ca­tion sub­jected the plain­tiff to an es­ca­lat­ing course of pu­n­ish­ment, de­pri­va­tion of ba­sic needs, phys­i­cal as­sault, in­flic­tion of men­tal an­guish and other in­flic­tion of harm,” the state­ment of claim al­leges.

Alafe was stripped of most of his clothes dur­ing his de­ten­tion and two of­fi­cers even­tu­ally took away his jail-is­sued jump­suit us­ing “ex­treme and un­rea­son­able force,” in­clud­ing punches and body chops, the state­ment of claim al­leges.

“The force used upon him was not jus­ti­fi­able at law and was ex­ces­sive and un­rea­son­able in the cir­cum­stances. The force was ap­plied in cir­cum­stances where the plain­tiff posed no safety risk to him­self or oth­ers and of­fered no provo­ca­tion,” the doc­u­ment says.

It fur­ther al­leges that the of­fi­cers treated Alafe “dif­fer­en­tially and dis­crim­i­na­to­rily” due to his race and his dis­abil­ity.

One of the of­fi­cers, Staff Sgt. Cheney Venn, also took away his mat­tress and blan­ket af­ter declar­ing that Alafe’s at­tempts to get the of­fi­cers’ at­ten­tion con­sti­tuted mis­be­haviour, the claim says.

Hours later, Alafe — who had never been sui­ci­dal be­fore — at­tempted to hang him­self with his socks, his only re­main­ing piece of cloth­ing, it says. Though the of­fi­cers would have been able to see him through the jail cell cam­era, they did noth­ing to in­ter­vene or help him, it says. The socks were taken away shortly af­ter­ward, it says.

About an hour and a half later, he was taken out of the cell to video bail court.

Alafe al­leges that on top of the phys­i­cal pain, men­tal dis­tress and hu­mil­i­a­tion he suf­fered that night, the in­ci­dent has caused last­ing dam­age, in­clud­ing a wors­en­ing of his chronic con­di­tion, post-trau­matic stress and night­mares.

He ar­gues po­lice had a fidu­ciary duty to him as a per­son in cus­tody, par­tic­u­larly one with med­i­cal and men­tal health is­sues, which they know­ingly or reck­lessly breached.

ALYSHAH HASHAM, TORONTO STAR

Philip Alafe al­leges that on top of the phys­i­cal pain, men­tal dis­tress and hu­mil­i­a­tion he suf­fered, the in­ci­dent has caused last­ing dam­age.

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