TORONTO—A man beaten by police in an incident caught on videotape earlier this month filed a lawsuit yesterday alleging two officers attacked him without provocation and used excessive force during an illegal arrest.
Police then added insult to injury by scorning family members who complained about the alleged beating, relatives of Santokh Bola said.
“You go to these people who have higher authority, you expect them to do something about it but they don’t,” said Bola’s sister, Sonia.
“It was frustrating, it was angering,” she added.
Bola, 21, of Woodbridge, Ont., had driven to a west-end plaza around 8 a.m. on Nov. 1 to help out at his grandfather’s store.
He had parked and just gotten out of his car when two officers—guns drawn—rushed at him, yelling at him to “get down or be shot,” according to the family’s unproven statement of claim.
Cellphone video taken by a bystander shows the officers then arresting Bola, who yells, “Hello, I didn’t do anything, sir”—something he cries out repeatedly as they proceed to punch him 11 times in quick succession, as well as knee him and kick him.
Bola, who has an intellectual disability, suffered bruises and cuts to his head and face, his existing tremors worsened, and he may have received a brain injury, the suit alleges.
“He’s scared,” Sonia Bola said. “He sleeps with a light on. He’s been having nightmares.
“This has actually traumatized him,” she added. “We see the fear in his eyes.
“It’s so sad.
“It’s just swept under the rug and it can’t be. These people need to be held accountable,” she stressed.
Bola himself did not speak at a news conference organized by his lawyers to discuss the lawsuit and screen the video.
Police have yet to file a defence to the untested claim, which seeks $5 million in various damages for Bola, his sister, and parents.
However, police spokesman Mark Pugash said the video doesn’t indicate the information the officers had when they arrested Bola, who was released that day without charge.
Pugash disputed family claims the two officers were responding to a call about an attempted burglary in the area.
“Minutes earlier, police had received a call—one of the most dangerous and urgent calls we get—about a man with a knife and we were given a description,” Pugash noted.
“The officers were responding.”
It will be up to the courts now—or the Office of the Independent Police Review Director—to determine whether the force used was reasonable under the circumstances.
Ken Byers, one of Bola’s lawyers, said how police behaved was inexcusable.
The video, he said, speaks for itself.
“In my personal experience, my 34 years of practice, I’ve never had a case where I have witnessed such an excessive abuse of police power and excessive force,” Byers noted.
“There is no reason for it.”