Five people who showed up to support residents of a Toronto homeless encampment as it was being dismantled over the summer have launched a lawsuit alleging they were assaulted by police.
The lawsuit was filed by Ollie D’Agostino, Skyler Williams, Callista Durose-Moya, Ellie Adekur and Keith Cameron, who were at the Lamport Stadium encampment on July 21.
It names as defendants the City of Toronto, the Toronto Police Services Board and four officers, two of whom are unnamed.
In a statement of claim, the defendants say they came, along with many others, to peacefully observe and prevent the encampment residents’ homes from being destroyed.
They allege they were attacked and injured by the officers in what they call a display of “excessive, unreasonable” force.
“I took the day off to help my neighbours and ended up in the hospital at the hands of the police,” D’Agostino, whose pronouns are they and them, said in a news conference Monday.
Allegations have yet to be tested in court
D’Agostino, a 31-year-old data analyst, said they have not been able to work since that day because their wrist was nearly broken and “the psychological damage made it impossible to function.”
Durose-Moya, 25, alleged she was tossed to the ground by several officers. She said she suffered a concussion as well as back and neck injuries, and said her head hit the curb.
“I’m still suffering from post-concussive symptoms and I worry that these injuries and my head will continue to affect my profession, which is a dancer,” she told the news conference.
“I continue to suffer migraines and I cannot go outside, (or) grocery shopping, because the noises, everything is overstimulating.”
The allegations have yet to be tested in court. The city and the police board said they had not been formally served with the claim yet, and would respond through the court.
According to the claim, one of the officers named in the suit “suddenly and without warning” smashed D’Agostino’s face into a wood pallet and struck their arm with a steel baton. D’Agostino later received medical care from an unknown civilian nurse, the document says.
Officers liable for assault, abuse of public office: suit
The claim alleges Durose-Moya was thrown to the ground and detained, and initially denied medical care “despite her obvious head injury.” She was eventually taken to hospital. The claim says she was never charged with a criminal offence.
The lawsuit alleges Williams was struck in the face with a steel baton while he was “peacefully standing in solidarity with community members.” He also received care from an unknown civilian nurse, it says.
Adekur was helping people leave the site when one of the unidentified officers named in the suit grabbed her and threw her to the ground, the claim alleges.
She was taken to a police vehicle with holding cells and held without a mask on, driven around the city and then released outside the force’s 11 Division headquarters, the claim says.
“At no time did the defendant TPSB or its officers inform Ms. Adekur as to why she was being arrested. Ms. Adekur was not advised of her rights to counsel at any time,” the claim says.
“The plaintiff Adekur was detained and arrested because she was a young Black woman and for no other lawful reason,” it alleges.
One of the unknown officers is also alleged to have struck Cameron and thrown him to the ground. The lawsuit alleges the officer then placed his leg and knee on Cameron’s head, ear and neck, pressing his face into the concrete.
The lawsuit alleges the officers are liable for assault, abuse of public office, and negligence, as they owed a duty of care to those at the site. The police board is liable for the actions of the officers, it says.
It also alleges the City of Toronto is responsible for “the way the clearing was negligently and dangerously carried out” because it requested the assistance of the police board and officers.
The statement of claim also alleges a number of violations under the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.