The family of a 21-year-old Toronto man has filed a lawsuit against Toronto police, alleging he was violently assaulted by several officers during a mistaken arrest at a west end parking lot that was videotaped by a bystander. It’s alleged that officers, acting on information about an attempted burglary in the area, pinned Bola to the ground, delivering a series of kicks, knee strikes and punches to his face, head and body.
The victim is a Santokh Bola, 21, who says he suffered serious injuries.
“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. The family played a video, somewhat indistinct, which appears to show someone being restrained and hit by police as they apparently attempt to take him into custody. The police have so far said nothing. “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.
“Every time I see the video, I still cringe”, lawyer Byers said.
“There’s obvious physical and emotional trauma”, lawyer Michael Smitiuch told a press conference Wednesday, with Bola’s family in attendance.
“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 said.
When Sonia and the rest of her family learned that a bystander had taken a video of the incident, she said what they saw shocked them, but it was a “relief” that there was footage of what occurred.
“No one would have believed us, we wouldn’t be here today, nothing would have come out of it”, Sonia said of what she thought would have come from her family’s complaints without the video footage. Pugash said the superintendent did subsequently invite them for a chat.