STATE AND POLICE VIOLENCE

As social movements and BIPOC communities continue to shed light on decades old problems with policing, victims of police abuses are coming forward and seeking legal support. We encourage and support people who are seeking justice to reach out to our team of experienced lawyers.

HOW TO PROVE POLICE MISCONDUCT?

Police misconduct frequently involves a negligence claim. In this context, the plaintiff is required to provide on a balance of probabilities that the officer owed a duty of care, failed to act like a reasonably prudent officer, and caused the damages complained of.

 

In the context of assault and battery, the plaintiff must prove on a balance of probabilities that the officer used physical force or the threat of imminent force Without consent and without a legal right.

 

In a claim of misfeasance of public office, the plaintiff must prove that the officer, in carrying out the conduct complained of, exceeded the scope of their office

 

There may be other grounds depending on the circumstances.

 

Police misconduct is a specialized area of tort and constitutional law. We are most frequently dealing with the torts of negligence, misfeasance in public office, assault, and battery. From a constitutional perspective, we typically examine whether to life, liberty and security of the person meet the principles of fundamental justice. We also look whether discrimination occurred and whether the treatment constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

HOW TO REPORT A POLICE OFFICER FOR MISCONDUCT?

Within 6 months of the incident you are able to file a complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director. However, it is important to seek legal advice first. Proceeding straight to a civil claim against the police officer and police force may be a strategically better option.   
 
Speaking out about police misconduct is a very serious decision. You could proceed in 3 ways, depending on the nature of the claim(s)  
 
The first is a human rights claim. These claims serve a useful function of denunciation and compensation for bad conduct. Unfortunately, however, tribunals traditionally provide less compensation than civil courts.  
 
The second option involves tort or a civil lawsuit. We have successfully handled dozens of such claims, from police assaults to anti-Black racism claims.  
 
As mentioned above, another option is the Office of the Police Independent Review Director (OIPRD). This is the provincial police watchdog. This agency is viewed suspiciously by lawyers and advocates as being biased towards police and ineffective.  

IN THE PRESS

Only 1% of public complaints against Toronto cops led to a disciplinary hearing in past 5 years.

Toronto police bike blitz 'a waste of resources'

‘The system isn’t broken. It was built this way’: Hundreds rally downtown as police board hears marathon session on race and police.

‘The system isn’t broken. It was built this way’: Hundreds rally downtown as police board hears marathon session on race and police.

Man arrested on video suing TTC, Toronto police over alleged racial discrimination.

It is unfortunately not uncommon that police officers make mistakes, from anti-Black racism to causing personal injuries. You have the right to take legal action against a police department or prison if you believe your rights were violated and/or you have been injured.
 
If you are a victim of police or state misconduct, document everything about the incident(s). Take pictures, video, get witness statements/contact information. Record the times, locations, officers involved, and the details of the interaction. 
 
You may have a claim if you experienced the following:

  • Unlawful search and seizure

  • Unlawful arrest and imprisonment

  • Using excessive force causing injury

  • Racial profiling

  • Sexual harassment and abuse during arrest and detention

  • Off duty police misconduct

  • Police dog bites/attacks

  • Wrongfully deploying pepper spray or other weapons

  • Preventing you from filming on public property

The Biking Lawyer LLP

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The Biking Lawyer LLP is a founding organizer and sponsor of the Toronto Bike Brigade. Proceeds from all of our work go to support the Bike Brigade as they delivery food, supplies, and support to communities in need. Solidarity, not charity.

The Biking Lawyer LLP is a founding organizer and sponsor of the Toronto Bike Brigade. Proceeds from all of our work go to support the Bike Brigade as they delivery food, supplies, and support to communities in need. Solidarity, not charity.

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Our lawyers are compassionate and caring, but we are also fierce, strategic and effective. We achieve great results for our clients, while ensuring their dignity is respected as well.

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