. E-mail This Article

Man sues RCMP for $750,000

Statement of claim alleges police brutality

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Dec 11/00) - An Iqaluit man is suing RCMP for $750,000 for injuries he says he received while he was in police custody.

In a statement of claim filed Dec. 4, Mathew Petooloosie alleges that while in police custody on March 2, 1999, Const. Colin Allooloo deliberately struck (him) in the abdominal area of his body with his knee causing severe injury."

Petooloosie was held in custody for about eight hours, and after his release checked himself into the hospital because of "pain, discomfort and other medical symptoms... and was determined to have suffered a rupture to his bladder," the statement said.

There was "a build-up of fluid in his abdominal cavity as a result. Petooloosie required emergency surgery to repair the injuries sustained in consequence of the actions or omissions of the Defendants or some of them," the statement said.

Also named as defendants in the suit filed in the Nunavut Court of Justice are the Solicitor General of Canada, the Commissioner of the RCMP, the Commissioner of the NWT, Const. Lisa Ford, Const. Craig Thur, Const. Joe Baines, Const. Robert James. Const. Sherry Hellems. Roger Melanson and Geoffrey Anderson, two guards employed by the RCMP, are also named in the suit.

Although the suit took almost two years to file, Euan Mackay, Petooloosie's lawyer, said it was always their plan to sue for mental and physical suffering.

The incident is also before the RCMP Public Complaints Commission, but Mackay said he thought seeking financial compensation was an appropriate route to take.

"It was a traumatic experience," said Mackay.

"Perhaps a near death experience."

Mackay was hired by Petooloosie before he was released from the Baffin Regional Hospital and immediately asked police to conduct a criminal investigation.

No excessive force

Two police officers from Yellowknife investigated. Their report went to Pamela Clarke, regional director of the Department of Justice in Iqaluit. Clarke said her close working relationship with Allooloo made it difficult for her to make the final decision so she forwarded the report to the Department of Justice in Manitoba.

In May 1999 Manitoba officials said there was no evidence that excessive force had been used and that there was not a reasonable prospect for conviction if criminal charges were laid.

The defendants who reside in Nunavut have 25 days to respond to the statement of claim, while those residing outside of Nunavut have 30 days to reply.