Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Woman claims RCMP left her naked in raid

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A drug raid at a Winnipeg home has triggered an unusual lawsuit against RCMP officers after they allegedly removed a woman from a shower and briefly detained her, naked and wet, in her kitchen.

The woman, 58, alleges she's suffered major negative effects from the conduct of the six male officers, including post-traumatic stress disorder, emotional trauma and lasting fears of being home alone and showering.

She's now suing the RCMP for an undisclosed amount of money, including for lost wages at her job as a medical technician at St. Boniface Hospital.

In a statement of claim in Court of Queen's Bench, she describes an incident involving the RCMP at her Springfield Road home in northeast Winnipeg on Sept. 21, 2012. The claim's allegations have not been proven in court, and the RCMP have not yet filed a statement of defence.

The woman says officers came to her home to execute a search warrant. The lawsuit doesn't say why, but other court records obtained by the Free Press show their target was her son, 24, who is cognitively challenged and had prior convictions for cocaine-trafficking and possession.

The woman claims officers came into her main-floor bathroom and took her from the shower, placing her naked in the kitchen "without access to covers for a period of time."

She says she began hyperventilating and had "shock-like symptoms" that resulted in her being taken out of the house and put in an ambulance.

Her son was arrested at the scene.

Prosecutors say he led police to a spare room where cocaine worth between $3,000 and $4,000 was seized from a binder, according to provincial court records.

He has since pleaded guilty to a charge of possession for the purpose of trafficking and is to be sentenced in July.

His mother has no record of charges or convictions in Manitoba. Justice officials are aware of the case and referred to "unusual" circumstances that unfolded during the search at a bail hearing a few weeks after the raid.

"Some odd things happened," federal Crown prosecutor Ken Hawkins told court.

He said when officers went inside, the woman was "in some state of undress" and might have been headed to the shower.

"I assume it was pretty terrifying to have the police come in the door," he told Judge Wanda Garreck.

"She ended up... sort of hyperventilating and the police held off on their search until (paramedics) arrived," Hawkins said.

"She walked out on her own power, but (the RCMP) took it very seriously, and it's all through their notes," Hawkins added.

Preservation of evidence is a primary concern for investigators when they execute drug-related warrants.

Officers often request permission from magistrates and judges to enter a home unannounced to prevent any forewarning to suspects and possible destruction of items of interest.

So-called no-knock or dynamic-entry warrants are routinely granted in such cases.

The warrant granted to the RCMP in this case, however, does not specify if it was for a no-knock entry.

A Dauphin justice of the peace granted the warrant by phone at 8:39 p.m. Sept. 20, 2012, giving police the power to search the woman's home only "by day" to gather potential evidence against her son.

The document police used to substantiate their request for the warrant, known as an information to obtain, was ordered sealed at the RCMP's request and was unavailable for viewing.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 27, 2014 A3

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