A man is suing five Winnipeg Police Service officers, alleging he was assaulted and shocked with a Taser 13 times in front of a Maryland Street home.
In a lawsuit filed last week, 37-year-old Shaun Anobis alleges he had visited the home June 8, 2020, looking for his cellphone, which had been stolen earlier that day. Anobis was leaving when he was met by five officers who quickly took him to the ground, the files say.
Officers did not tell Anobis he was under arrest before "forcefully" taking him into custody "in circumstances lacking reasonable and probable grounds," the lawsuit alleges.
"While face-down on the ground, (Anobis) received instructions to place his hands behind his back to be handcuffed," at which point Anobis started resisting, the lawsuit says.
Officers punched and kneed Anobis and shocked him with a Taser 13 times in the legs, buttocks and wrist, the lawsuit alleges. While still on the ground, one of the officers told Anobis he was under arrest for assaulting police officers.
According to a use-of-force report, one of the officers reported using his taser two to three times, says the lawsuit. "No other police officer reported employing their Taser against (Anobis)," says the court document.
Anobis alleges he suffered burn marks and scarring to his buttocks and legs, bruising, and a sprained right arm. Anobis "was justified to use reasonable and proportionate force to defend himself from the… conduct of the defendants," says the lawsuit.
Anobis alleges the officer who shocked him with the Taser used the drive-stun mode instead of pulse mode "to intentionally inflict pain" rather than to simply incapacitate him.
According to the lawsuit, Anobis admits he had a small folding knife in his pocket when he was arrested, but at no time tried to use it on officers.
Court records show Anobis has been charged only with offences directly related to the circumstances of his arrest: two counts of assaulting a police officer and one count each of obstructing a police officer and possession of a weapon dangerous to the public peace.
Martin Pollock, Anobis’s lawyer, said an unidentified male called 911 to report someone matching his client’s description in the area with a BB gun.
Anobis didn’t have a BB gun, and immediately complied with a police demand to walk toward them with his hands out of his pockets, before he was forcefully taken to the ground, Pollock said in an interview.
"The key here is he was compliant and police jumped on the force continuum," he said.
Anobis had a right to resist what was an unreasonable arrest, Pollock said.
"You can’t just start grabbing people and putting them to the ground," he said. "There was no dialogue… People are entitled to be spoken to."
The allegations have not been proven in court. A WPS spokesperson said city police had not yet been served with the lawsuit, and declined to comment.
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.