London man suing Woodstock police
Thanks to court ruling, Everton Brown’s lawsuit can’t be tossed for missing a deadline THESTAR. COM/ GTA
Everton Brown always intended to sue the Woodstock police officers he alleges beat and repeatedly shocked him during an arrest five years ago, but he took the advice of his criminal lawyer and waited until the charges against him played out in court.
The criminal case ended more than two years later with no convictions and all of the serious charges against him — obstructing and resisting police, and possession of crack cocaine and proceeds of crime — being withdrawn, provided he agree to a peace bond that involved him “keeping the peace” and staying out of Woodstock for a year.
In May 2016, sue, he did, launching a $1.75-million suit alleging he was assaulted, illegally arrested and detained and illegally searched. The 51year-old London man did so more than two years after the alleged assault by police, placing it beyond the normal twoyear limit for making such a claim.
For that reason, police argued his suit should be tossed.
But recent court decisions by the Ontario Court of Appeal — and the Supreme READ THE FULL STORY AT Court of Canada decisions not to revisit them — came down in Brown’s favour, as well as for another man facing a similar scenario, and also involving the Woodstock Police Service.
Essentially, the two- year limitations clock in cases like this now starts ticking when criminal charges are disposed of, rather than at the date of an arrest. The rulings reverse a standard that effectively prevented some victims of al- leged police abuses from being able to seek compensation in civil court.
Before these rulings, potential complainants would have to proceed through the notoriously slow criminal court system in order to first see any evidence against them that might inform their decision to sue — while also defending against those charges.
In September, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear appeals by police in Brown’s case and that of Robert Winmill, affirming a 2017 Ontario Court of Appeal decision in Winmill’s case that “it makes sense” for people to focus on criminal charges and “deal with those before making a final decision about a civil action” against police.
“It’s a watershed case,” says Toronto lawyer Osborne Brownwell, who is representing Brown in the civil case.
Everton Brown, 51, is suing the Woodstock Police Service over his 2013 arrest. He alleges police assaulted him, detained him and illegally searched him.