Those that follow such things will know that proving police brutality is very difficult. Absent video evidence, the police narrative usually is that the one claiming to have been brutalized was in fact the perpetrator, and charges of assault on police almost invariably result.
Such was the situation that Toni Farrell faced when she was viciously assaulted by OPP Sgt. Russell Watson in 2013, a situation I wrote about in January. Russell's 'crime'? She tried to help police find the three men who had viciously assaulted a woman.
Happily, the charge that she assaulted Watson was tossed out by Ontario Court Justice George Beatty, who ruled that she was only being a Good Samaritan. The SIU chose not to investigate Watson, but relented when the story hit the media.
Knowing that if justice is to be achieved, she must pursue it herself, Farrell is suing Watson, the police force and the local police services board for close to $4 million.
Tonie Farrell, 48, “has sustained permanent and serious injuries including, but not limited to, a fractured leg, crushed knee, lost tooth, as well as bruising, spraining, straining and tearing of the muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves throughout her body including her neck and back,” alleges the statement of claim, filed in Newmarket Superior Court in January.Farrell's list of grievances is long:
The OPP “knew or ought to have known that Sgt. Watson had a history of using excessive or unwarranted force but failed to take appropriate steps to address the issue,” the statement alleges. “It continued to employ Sgt. Watson when it knew or ought to have known that Sgt. Watson was a danger to the public.”
Farrell is demanding $4 million in general, aggravated and punitive damages, and $100,000 in Charter of Rights and Freedoms damages. Her family members are each asking for $100,000 in damages.If anyone is able to break through that thick 'blue wall' the police regularly hide behind, I suspect it will be Toni Farrell.
The statement alleges Watson “is liable for the tort of battery,” saying he “owed a duty to the plaintiff . . . not to make harmful or offense (sic) physical contact with her in the absence of legal justification or authority.”
It also alleges that he wrongfully arrested Farrell, that he was “negligent in failing to carry out a reasonable investigation,” and was “actively involved” in the “malicious prosecution” of Farrell.
The statement of claim goes on to allege that Watson “caused and continued prosecution against the plaintiff in order to conceal or obfuscate his misconduct; he deliberately misstated the events in his notes in hopes of securing a conviction; he counseled fellow officers to misstate evidence to the court in order to secure a conviction.”