A Whitehorse man’s claims of discrimination, wrongful arrest and other misconduct by RCMP officers have been dismissed by a Yukon Supreme Court Judge.
The court heard claims launched by Mandeep Singh Sidhu in a two-week trial in August 2021. Sidhu accused the RCMP and by extension the Attorney General of Canada of discrimination, wrongful arrest, malicious prosecution and assault. Justice Karen Wenckebach reserved her decision at the end of the August proceedings and then issued a written judgment on Jan. 27.
At issue in the case was police conduct during and after a 2012 traffic stop, during a subsequent arrest of Sidhu for uttering threats against a police officer and during a 2016 traffic stop. Sidhu would eventually be acquitted of the uttering threats charge.
Wenckebach dismissed Sidhu’s claim.
“Although the incidents at issue span four years and involved a number of different police officers, the crux of the matter is whether the members of the RCMP involved were motivated by racism in their decisions about, and interactions with Mr. Sidhu,” the judgment reads.
Wenckebach concluded that Sidhu was not unlawfully detained at roadside stops in 2012 and 2016. She also concluded Sidhu was not maliciously prosecuted when he was arrested for allegedly threatening police following the 2012 traffic stop. The judgment states that he was not denied the right to counsel and was not assaulted during the arrest either.
Sidhu and his lawyer attempted to have incidents alleged to have taken place in Watson Lake years before included in the scope of the court case. Sidhu told the court he experienced discrimination and mistreatment from members of the RCMP in the southern Yukon town after he struck up a friendship with a female RCMP officer. He said incidents between him and the police in Watson Lake showed a pattern of discrimination and that the racism against him transferred on to Whitehorse through an exchange of information between the detachments.
Wenckebach’s judgment says the fallacy of the argument for including these incidents is that, even if there was a pattern of discrimination in the organization, it cannot be concluded that officers involved will act in a discriminatory fashion.
Only earlier interactions with officers who were involved in the 2012 and 2016 traffic stops were admitted as similar fact evidence.
Concerns about Sidhu’s credibility on the stand were among the reasons Wenckebach’s decision to dismiss the claims. The judgment states she found Sidhu’s evidence internally inconsistent and inconsistent with other evidence presented. The judge also found he had gaps in his memory, was evasive under cross examination and admitted to not being truthful during one of the incidents described.
The judge also found that Sidhu minimized the role of his own actions, shown in evidence to be angry and confrontational during interactions with police, in influencing their treatment of him. The judgment notes the angry phone calls he made to the RCMP detachment on several occasions and for various reasons during which he hurled abuse at dispatchers. Recordings of the calls were played for the court.
“He did not, at any point, indicate that he overreacted or misdirected his anger. This raises concerns about Mr. Sidhu’s judgment,” Wenckebach’s decision reads.
Sidhu’s lawyer submitted that his client’s anger was a reaction to harassment and racism over a period of many years.
Wenckebach found the 2012 traffic stop, in which Sidhu was pulled over for further screening at a sobriety check stop was not motivated by racism. A heated argument between Sidhu and an officer at the check stop was captured on both Sidhu’s cell phone and RCMP dash cameras.
On the witness stand officers who were present offered alternative explanations to it being about his race. The court heard an auxiliary constable tell the court that he called over a regular RCMP officer, Cst. West, after Sidhu would not immediately hand over his driver’s license. The regular officer thought Sidhu may need secondary screening recalling a traffic stop earlier in the year when Sidhu’s license already had 10 demerit points against it.
Both West and the judge acknowledged a statement he made during the traffic stop about Sidhu’s mayoral candidacy was unprofessional. Wenckebach accepted that it could have been made due to frustration rather than racism.
A conversation with another officer the day after the traffic stop which Sidhu initiated to complain about the stop, led the officer to file an uttering threats charge that led to his arrest day’s later.
Based on evidence the judge concluded that the officer who filed the uttering threats charges against Sidhu the day after the discussion that was deemed threatening, had very little info about Sidhu and therefore no malice against him and also had reasonable cause to charge him. Therefore the judge found no basis to conclude that malicious prosecution had occurred.
The judge was also not compelled by Sidhu and his lawyer’s evidence that he was assaulted during the December 2012 arrest or that he was denied access to council.
Similarly the judge found no basis of racial profiling in the 2016 traffic stop, which also led to an argument between Sidhu and the officers involved.
Contact Jim Elliot at firstname.lastname@example.org