Greg Thornton and The Waterloo Regional Police

26 Mar

Below is Greg’s story of what he is currently going through as a result of police assault and intimidation.

I have an active small claims case, specifically naming Constable Ryan Thomas, in regards his assaultive and deceptive actions against me. The incident occurred the morning of 04/05/12, in the lobby of Family and Children’s Services. I had police attend my residence every day that week, for various concerns of my mental health. During processing and incarceration for having committed a non-violent offence, there was a complete disregard for my physical and mental health. I submitted a complaint to the OIPRD, which came back unsubstantiated. I failed to appeal the decision through the civilian review board, because I did not receive the paperwork to file an appeal before the 30 day statute of limitations. With there being an admission of the Constables misconduct, but a claim that there wasn’t enough evidence to substantiate it, the investigative report appeared biased. I recently submitted a complaint against the Sergeant who reviewed my original complaint, because I am in the process of obtaining said evidence. The complaint was unfortunately submitted more than 6 months from the date of the incident, and will not be investigated. I was unsuccessful in obtaining a copy of the video surveillance through Freedom of Information, and Family and Children’s Services wouldn’t release a copy without a court order. The Constable’s defence lawyer is now requesting a copy to be used in the proceedings. ************************************************************************************* In the past, I had an issue with a slanderous Family and Children’s Services worker. Thankfully, they removed her from her position, and most of her notes were stricken from my records. When it was found out that my wife allowed me to come for visits without the society’s approval, a no contact order was imposed. I ended up signing full custody of my son over to my wife, completed P.A.R.S., Caring Dads, and attended St. Mary’s addiction counselling. (I now have my MMAR.) I went from no contact, to supervised access, to community access visits, before being allowed unsupervised visitation. That was after a call my wife’s friend made to the police, because she overheard part of an argument while on the phone. (Though my wife asked her not to.) Officers came, took statements, had nothing to suggest or enforce, and wished me luck as they were leaving. They didn’t even mention a report was being sent to F&CS, because the argument occurred in front of our son. That file was eventually closed, and my wife and I attempted to reconcile years later. We were back together 5 months, before financial strain began causing issues. The F&CS’ protection application which sparked this incident, stemmed from my son’s daycare calling in a concern. The worker overheard me arguing with my wife on our way out of the parking lot, after I dropped my son off. My wife received a call at work, and was told if she didn’t leave me, F&CS would apprehend our child. She asked instead for them to help me, and the worker insisted help would be provided once she left. I mentioned to the worker that I had been recently diagnosed as bi-polar, and taking my family was not helping. I had just gone from commission sales to general labour, which was easier to cope with mentally, but was not as financially rewarding. As a result of being more active, I was experiencing many aches and strains. An MRI was scheduled for my lower lumbar, and I was given a requisition to have an x-ray taken of my knees. The pain I was experiencing didn’t preventing me from working, the stress from F&CS’ involvement did. I went down to F&CS every morning, after my wife sent me a text message informing me that she was leaving. The worker told me to address questions regarding access of my son to my wife, and my wife told me to talk to the worker. I tried calling the police in regard to the worker’s threats to kidnap my son, but officers were sent to my home instead, regarding a concern for my mental health. I refused the offer to be taken to the hospital, for being a devastated father who was not being granted access to his child. On Thursday, one worker told me that I was there without a scheduled appointment, and after agreeing to return the following morning, I took a framed mission statement off the wall, because I did not feel the workers were representing the values which it listed. I expected legal recourse that evening, so I put the mission statement in my front bay window. To my surprise, no police arrived. The following morning, I brought the mission statement with me for my “scheduled appointment”. Keep in mind, that at the end of all of this, the protection application was withdrawn by F&CS. I don’t believe an expert testimony is required to explain the 5 stages of grief; Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Also, bi-polar is a severe mood disorder. I got out of my van, and headed toward the main entrance. Constable Dietrich approached me in the parking lot, yelling charges (that I was in possession of stolen property), and told me to put the mission statement down. I asked “what’s the matter with you”, as I was attempting to return said property. She never used the words “you’re under arrest,” but told me to drop the mission statement, and grabbed my arm. I pulled away, and continued walking toward the front lobby. Once inside, I rehung the mission statement, told the receptionist I was there for my scheduled appointment, and sat in a chair. I was confused as to why I was still being accused of stealing something I had just returned. The Constable responded by saying that I had assaulted her in the parking lot. I told her I was sorry she scratched herself on her utility belt when I pulled my arm away, but insisted I had to attend my scheduled appointment. The Constable wouldn’t consider joining me in the meeting, and said that I was to deal with her instead. She stood glaring at me, so I threw my fire arms license by her feet, asking why peace officers needed to carry a weapon. I was frantically trying to explain my past with Family and Children’s Services, obviously under extreme duress, when Constable Thomas walked in. The first thing I heard out of his mouth was “get the fuck on the ground now.” I immediately changed my tone, and told the officers I had a requisition to have my knees x-rayed. (Substantiated by civilian witness #3, on page 6 of the investigative report, though unacknowledged in the summary) I tossed my wallet aside to try to get one of them out of my face. Both Constables continued to advance, so I reached my arms forward and said that if they “…needed to put cuffs on me, to go ahead.” Both officers suddenly grabbed my arms, and forcefully pulled me from the chair. I planted my foot to catch my balance, and “it appears as a lunge” according to Sargent Julie Sudds. In both officers’ field notes, it states that I “refused to comply, and clenched his arms to the arm rest of the chair, refusing to let go”. Constable Dietrich states (in the summary of statements, investigative report, on page 12) “they physically grabbed onto his arms to remove him from the chair…. She stated that she and Constable Thomas attempted to ground Mr. Thornton for their safety.” On page 13, in Constable Thomas’ summary, he stated “Mr. Thornton never offered his wrists, nor did he mention any type of illness prior to being placed in handcuffs.” After I offered my wrists, and was pulled from the chair, the officers immediately began trying to trip me. I resisted being “grounded” to avoid being thrown into furniture. On page 11 of the investigative report, in the summary of Staff Sergeant Joanne VanDeursen, she points out that “chairs and a post are immediately in front of them, and would have been an obstacle in grounding him.” The officers just kept hitting me, and I repeatedly asked for them to put handcuffs on me. At one point I told the male officer that he should “pick up his personal effects before they got damaged”. Shortly after, the Constable slipped and fell on his own sunglasses. He immediately jumped up and punched me in the eye, supposedly out of concern for the female officer. (Since he lost grip of my arm.) I made no attempt to escape or retaliate at any point. The struggle ensued for quite some time, and more officers arrived in response to the officers hitting the panic button on their belts. Three more officers piled on top of me, and folded me to the ground as I stood in a base position, forcing me to defecate. One was bending my arm back, but immediately stopped when I made a concise request for them to cease. On route to the station, I was singing loudly to the country music the officer was playing to drown me out. (About having my family taken and being beaten by the police.) My clothes were put in personal property bags, which I later found were destroyed. My requests to be taken to the hospital were ignored. One guard suggested I hold off till after I was released so I didn’t have to come back. The judge I went before, said in open court that he didn’t want to wait around for myself and one other accused to contact sureties. We were not given adequate time or ability to contact a surety, and because it happened to be a Friday, we were to be sent to Milton penitentiary for the weekend. Once I found out, I peeled paint off the bottom of my cell, and began cutting my wrist. The guards told me to drop the paint, cuffed me, and put me in the patty wagon. I asked to see a doctor, and was told I’d see one in prison. I was sent to sit in solitary, on suicide watch, covered in my own feces, in a concrete cell. Because the prison was on lockdown, I was not allowed access to a shower. I was not given a lactose free diet as requested, and was not allowed my prescription medication. Apparently mattresses aren’t allowed in solitary, so my arthritis was becoming quite enflamed. Not to mention the injuries resulting from the assault. The attending nurse told me to lose my sense of entitlement, and offered no support. I was released when my mother posed as my surety on Monday. Although I had been transferred to mental health court, Duty Council suggested the crown would not willingly admit that police had assaulted a mentally ill person. Duty Council advised me to accept the plea bargain, which was offered by the crown after viewing the surveillance video. I completed a year of probation and was given a conditional discharge. Some of my claims of injury and illness did exist prior to this incident, (though unacknowledged by arresting officers) but no medical attention was given whatsoever. The police procedure for dealing with persons with mental health in Ontario outlines symptoms I exhibited, describing excited delirium. (Which should be treated as a medical emergency.) An MRI I had taken in June, showed 4 bulging disks in my lower lumbar. I have an image of my eye, showing bruising, though no signs of injury were noted. Also, I’ve had a limited range of motion since this incident, as demonstrated by the exercises I was given in physiotherapy, at Grey Bruce Health Services. I do not feel the officers adequately de-escalated the situation, especially considering the location, and the aforementioned mental health concerns. After the altercation, I was unable to obtain employment as a result of my injuries, and was unable to maintain minimum payments in financial obligations. I had no other option but to apply for OW/ODSP, and file for bankruptcy. I was fortunate to have my doctor refer me to a retraining program, through Bridging Employment Supports, at the Canadian Mental Health Association. I’m now in receipt of second career funding, and am attending college. I intend to pursue these complaints through the superior court of justice, not only for financial compensation, but to have the mistreatment of persons with mental health in the city of Kitchener acknowledged.

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