The Honourable Mr. Justice Frank W. Cole has declared a mistrial in the case of a Delta man suing four Vancouver police officers for general and punitive damages for alleged assault and battery. Late Tuesday, the civil jury foreperson advised the Court that the eight person jury was evenly divided and could not reach a verdict in the case. Mr. Justice Cole declined Mr. Sanchez’s motion that he render a decision in the case himself, citing earlier comments he made to counsel in his Chambers on the merits of the case as possibly affecting the fairness of the process.

Luis Ronald Calderon Sanchez, 47, an award-winning poet and novelist with no prior criminal history, alleged that he was stopped by police while driving his wife home from work late in the evening of November 13, 1999. He and his wife testified that four VPD members assaulted him without provocation, took him to the ground, handcuffed him, threw him in a police wagon and carted him off to jail without giving him a reason for his arrest, reading him his Charter rights or advising him that he could contact a lawyer. He was released at about 2:30 a.m. the next morning after suffering another beating by guards in the jail. Three days later, he wrote a lengthy letter to the VPD Chief Constable describing what had happened to him. When he failed to receive an apology, he commenced the lawsuit.

Ronald Sanchez, a caregiver for the mentally disabled and a man who had witnessed brutality, murders and abductions by the police and the military in his native El Salvador, was never charged with any offence.

A new trial date has not yet been fixed.