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A. Cameron Ward
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Hyatt civil trial adjourned

September 22, 2003 in News

The trial of the civil cases brought by four Vancouver residents against the Vancouver Police Department in respect of the so-called “Riot at the Hyatt” has been adjourned generally. The trial was to have commenced September 22, 2003 and was expected to last some eight to ten weeks, since the Defendants planned to call about 70 police officers as witnesses. All of the plaintiffs claimed that they were unlawfully assaulted by members of the VPD’s Crowd Control Unit outside the Hyatt Hotel on December 8, 1998.

Meanwhile, an ‘external’ investigation by the New Westminster Police Department into the affair, at the direction of the Office of the Police Complaint Commission, is set to wrap up no later than November 27, 2003. It has taken the OPCC almost five years to deal with the complaints of police brutality filed after the Hyatt incident. Our clients are cooperating fully with the investigation.

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The civil lawsuits against the Vancouver Police Department as a result of the so-called “Riot at the Hyatt” in December, 1998 are finally set for trial commencing September 22, 2003 at B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. Five Vancouver residents, including a lawyer and a teacher, claim members of the VPD’s Crowd Control Unit assaulted them and are seeking general and punitive damages. The case is scheduled to be heard by judge and jury and is expected to last several weeks.

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The B.C. Supreme Court has rejected an application brought by a number of Vancouver police officers to have Mr. Ward’s allegations against them dismissed. Mr. Justice Romilly ruled that the allegations, if true, would constitute gross negligence or wilful misconduct on their part. A year ago, Mr. Ward was handcuffed, arrested, strip-searched jailed and his car was seized and impounded because police apparently thought he might throw a pie at the Prime Minister of Canada. Although the police acknowledged that all this occurred because of mistaken identity, they refused to apologize. Mr. Ward has sued for general and punitive damages. No trial date has yet been set.

A complete copy of the judgment is available here.

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Regional Crown Counsel has advised us that no criminal charges will be laid against two VPD officers who shot and killed Thomas Evon Stevenson on December 7, 2002. Cst. Foster and Sgt. Milligan fired six bullets at Mr. Stevenson, killing him, as he sat in a disabled car on East Pender Street in Vancouver. Mr. Stevenson’s family, including two young children, have commenced a civil action and are pressing for a Coroner’s inquest into the death.

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Strip Search Class Action

June 22, 2003 in News

On June 18, 2003, Mr. Ward and co-counsel Marilyn Sandford commenced a class action in the Supreme Court of British Columbia on behalf of all persons who were strip-searched at the Vancouver Jail since December 6, 2001. The lawsuit alleges that the Jail, at 275 East Cordova Street in Vancouver, operates pursuant to an internal policy whereby everyone booked into the facility is strip-searched. According to decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada, a policy of routine strip searches contravenes the constitutional rights of people to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure. No trial date has yet been set.

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