U of T student allegedly assaulted by Toronto police in 2021 still recovering from injuries: lawyer
Posted January 16, 2023 5:35 am.
Last Updated January 16, 2023 2:57 pm.
The lawyer of a man suing Toronto police over an alleged assault in a case of mistaken identity in 2021 says his client’s life has been “derailed.”
A statement of claim filed in the Superior Court of Justice alleges 27-year-old Hasani O’Gilvie, who is Black, was heading to class at the University of Toronto in August 2021 when three officers stopped him outside a grocery store in North York.
According to the claim, O’Gilvie says he was tackled and piled on by the officers, with one placing his knee on his neck for an extended period of time, all while he was also being tasered.
The claim also alleges O’Gilvie was released after the officers searched his bag and found identification proving police had the wrong person.
“Body camera footage exists that we anticipate the public will find supports what we laid out in our statement of claim,” O’Gilvie’s lawyer, David Shellnutt, said at a news conference on Monday.
He said O’Gilvie’s injuries “still require on-going attention. He is only now, last week, started back to school at U of T. A young man’s career and life derailed because of this interaction with Toronto police officers in August 2021.”
His family said O’Gilvie was not in a condition to speak at the news conference.
“My son experienced severe emotional and physical trauma … every day is a healing for him,” O’Gilvie’s mother Christine said.
His family said the case puts a face to statistics showing that Black people in Toronto face disproportionate levels of police use of force.
“Whether we like it or not, he is symbolic of the experiences endured by many young Black males in North America,” Christine said.
O’Gilvie and his mother are seeking for $2.4 million in damages as well as $250,000 under the Family Law Act
The lawsuit’s allegations have yet to be tested in court.
“Since the incident the O’Gilvie’s have made every effort to use police accountability procedures to seek justice for what happened,” Shellnutt said.
“Despite several of Mr. O’Gilvie’s complaints being found to warrant a hearing … the OIPRD (Office of the Independent Police Review Director) has delayed a hearing on this matter until the earliest February 2024.”
Toronto police said they would not comment as the matter is before the courts, and the Toronto Police Association — which represents civilian and uniform members — says the officers are not commenting as the case is also before a review tribunal.
“n many cases, enforcement actions are met with resistance; not everyone wants to be arrested,” said Toronto Police Association president Jon Reid in a statement. “As these members face charges under the Police Services Act, the Association will ensure they are treated fairly throughout this process.”
In case notes, police say the man had the “same description” as an outstanding subject and that they apologized and let him go after the interaction.
The Special Investigation Unit, which launches a probe whenever police conduct may have resulted in death, serious injury, sexual assault or the discharge of a firearm, said it is not investigating O’Gilvie’s case.
“Generally speaking, the SIU does not investigate CEW (Conducted Energy Weapon) discharges unless there is a serious injury or death,” the SIU said in a statement.
With files from Michael Ranger of CityNews