By TOM GODFREY
The father of a mentally ill Pickering boy who was shot eight times by police has filed a $7.5 million lawsuit against the Durham Regional Police Services Board and one of its officers for excessive use of force.
Neither the boy, nor his father who is Jamaican, can be identified, since he was a minor at the time of the July 2012 shooting. He is now 19.
The lawsuit was filed by the father last January before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and names as defendants the Durham Police Services Board and Const. Brent Shaddick, according to a Statement of Claim by lawyer Munyonzwe Hamalengwa.
It seeks $6 million for “excessive, malicious and brutal use of force against a vulnerable, defenseless and mentally-challenged minor” and $1.5 million in other damages.
The boy has been diagnosed with Schizophrenia, Asperger’s Syndrome and psychosis, court documents show.
The claim alleged the incident started around 7 a.m. as the boy, who is described as being “under a suicidal stupor,” held a toy handgun to the head of a female worker at a Pickering veterinarian clinic while demanding Euthasol, a drug used to euthanize animals.
The youth was given two vials and he left the clinic, as workers called police.
York police Const. Shaddick arrived on the scene, took a complaint, and located the teen walking nearby.
The officer “shot a defenseless, mentally-challenged minor with a toy gun with eight bullets despite the fact the Plaintiff was not firing back at the officers,” the father alleged.
There were five police cruisers at the scene with 12 officers present who “could have easily subdued the Plaintiff,” the allegations state.
“The officers had various options … they could have used their skills to speak to the Plaintiff, they could have tasered him, or they could have pepper-sprayed him,” the action said. “The Plaintiff had not fired anything from his alleged firearm, because it was only a toy gun.”
Onlookers at the scene were heard saying: “He (the boy) was walking around talking to himself and acting in a bizarre, strange manner,” according to the father.
The officer “allegedly trained and experienced, kept on shooting at a wounded minor who was visibly mentally challenged and contained in a fenced enclosure,” the Claim alleged.
The boy sustained life-threatening injuries and miraculously survived. One of the bullets entered his left chest, close to his heart and exited out of his back; and another hit him in the right shoulder blade and exited out of his lower body.
“At the time of the shooting, the Plaintiff was in a mental crisis and his plan was to use the euthanasia drug to end his own life,” the document alleges.
And to make matters worse, the father has been employed in the Ontario justice system for more than 30 years “counselling and guiding street gang members to rehabilitate themselves”.
He now takes sleep and anti-depression medication and is treated by a trauma specialist.
The family said the scene of the shooting is near their home and serves as a daily reminder of the incident.
The father claims the shooting has traumatized family members and panic sets in “whenever they hear a siren or an emergency vehicle or the sound of a helicopter”.
He said his daughter and wife are “in a state of an on-and-off depression and have been struggling to overcome anxiety and sleepless nights”.
“Even wild, vicious and predatory animals are not shot the way this officer shot a minor,” the father said. “The officer did not shoot in order to serve and protect but to kill him.
He said a Durham mental health team could have been brought in to prevent the shooting.
Durham Regional Police did not comment as the matter is before the courts.