A Pine Falls woman is suing the RCMP after officers investigating a domestic disturbance complaint allegedly arrived at the wrong house and shocked her mentally disabled son three times with a Taser.

A Pine Falls woman is suing the RCMP after officers investigating a domestic disturbance complaint allegedly arrived at the wrong house and shocked her mentally disabled son three times with a Taser.

"The way things were handled, it was handled totally wrong," said Angela Dyck, whose 26-year-old son Joey has brain damage, autism, and heart problems. "They didn’t have to do what they did and they would have known very quickly Joey was a challenged man."

Five officers are named as defendants in the lawsuit, as well as a staff sergeant.

<p>Pine Falls is located 100 km northeast of Winnipeg. </p>

Pine Falls is located 100 km northeast of Winnipeg.

According to a statement of claim filed last week, Joey was in the front yard of his Pine Falls home on Nov. 6, 2020, when he was spotted by several officers who were patrolling the area in response to a domestic abuse complaint from a house on the same street.

Joey "is afraid of police because of his mental disabilities and generally tries to avoid or run away from uniformed officers," says the statement of claim. In a "fit of emotional panic," Joey ran away from the approaching officers and hid behind a barbecue, where he tried to call for help on his cellphone.

When Joey refused a police demand to come out from the barbecue, one of the officers discharged her Taser, striking Joey in the torso, says the statement of claim.

Joey ran into his house and locked the door behind him.

"The officers broke down the locked door and discharged a Taser at (Joey) a second time, this time striking and electrifying him in the shoulder and chest," the statement of claim alleges.

Four officers pinned Joey to the floor. At that point, one of the officers discharged their Taser into his stomach and testicles "at point-blank range," the statement of claim alleges.

<p>THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES/Jonathan Hayward</p><p>A Pine Falls woman is suing the RCMP after officers investigating a domestic disturbance complaint allegedly arrived at the wrong house and shocked her mentally disabled son three times with a Taser.</p>

THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES/Jonathan Hayward

A Pine Falls woman is suing the RCMP after officers investigating a domestic disturbance complaint allegedly arrived at the wrong house and shocked her mentally disabled son three times with a Taser.

Officers searched and handcuffed Joey before a neighbour arrived and told them he lived at the property.

Joey was released and not charged with any offence.

"At no time did (Joey) pose a threat to the officers at the time that he was struck by the Tasers," says the statement of claim. "Discharging Tasers in these circumstances was contrary to the RCMP and the officers’ training, policy and procedure."

Joey was taken to the Pine Falls health centre three days later, where he was examined for bruises and burns and pain and numbness in his arm, chest, hands and testicles, says the statement of claim. He was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

A short time after the incident, says the statement of claim, Davis and her neighbour spoke to an RCMP staff sergeant "who revealed… that the officers were investigating a domestic dispute on the same street but had failed to obtain an adequate description of the suspect and went to the wrong house."

"If you don’t have a full description of your suspect, don’t go after the first person that is running," Dyck said Thursday. "You could be going out for a jog. Just because you see police and start running, does that make you a suspect?"

<p>JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>RCMP headquarters in Powerview. The detachment also serves adjacent Pine Falls.</p>

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

RCMP headquarters in Powerview. The detachment also serves adjacent Pine Falls.

Dyck said police need better training to deal with people who have mental challenges.

"If they would have listened to Joey — he was saying ‘I want to talk to my mom, I need to talk to my mom, I need my mom,’ — that’s telling them right there something’s not quite right with this person. He had his cellphone in his pocket and he wanted to call me."

The statement of claim alleges the incident exacerbated Joey’s mental disabilities, impaired his ability to trust others, caused him depression, anxiety, emotional distress, degradation, humiliation, and a loss of self-esteem.

Late Thursday, Staff Sgt. Jeffry Monkman, commander of the Powerview detachment, issued a statement.

He said officers were responding to a domestic assault when they saw a man running towards the road. He changed direction and fled when he saw police. They found him hiding near a residence.

"Officers gave multiple commands for the male to show his hands and to move out of the hiding area. (He) came out of the hiding area but continued to refuse all commands. A prolonged struggle ensued and officers deployed their conducted energy weapon (Taser)," Monkman wrote.

It was quickly determined Joey was not the suspect and he was let go.

Monkman said officers realized the incident was traumatic for Joey and they worked to address his fear of police. He was invited to visit the Powerview detachment, and became comfortable with police as a result of doing so.

"He was soon hired to work at the Powerview detachment and was there three days a week, completing odd jobs such as washing police vehicles," Monkman wrote.

Joey worked at the detachment for four months.

"Our officers loved having him around the detachment and he was a great addition to our team. The relationship grew and I, along with several other officers, shared a Christmas meal with him and his family," Monkman said.

The commander said officers learned about developmental disabilities by working alongside Joey.

"It is truly unfortunate what occurred but I am proud that he made such an incredible effort to overcome his fears and to help us learn. His courage is remarkable."

Allegations in the lawsuit have not been proven in court.

dean.pritchard@freepress.mb.ca

Dean Pritchard

Dean Pritchard
Courts reporter

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.