Lawsuit accuses Mountie of using excessive force

A Yukon man is suing a Whitehorse RCMP officer for assault and battery and wrongful arrest, claiming he was punched multiple times in the face nearly two years ago.

A Yukon man is suing a Whitehorse RCMP officer for assault and battery and wrongful arrest, claiming he was punched multiple times in the face nearly two years ago.

It appears the officer is the same one who is currently under investigation by an Outside organization for punching a different man earlier this year.

Court documents filed by Stefan Brynjolfsson name Const. Nathan Menard.

Online comments and news reports have identified Menard as the officer in a video where he appears to punch Joshua Skookum after responding to a 911 call in April.

A different online video, of Menard discussing martial arts, appears to be of the same person.

Neither the RCMP nor the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, which is investigating, will confirm that Menard is the subject of the investigation.

Documents filed this week by Brynjolfsson in Yukon Supreme Court claim Brynjolfsson and Menard met each other at a Whitehorse gym.

They are both trained in Brazilian jujitsu. Menard has a brown belt.

After celebrating Canada Day at a downtown bar, Brynjolfsson says a female friend asked him to walk her home. He admits they were both intoxicated.

According to the lawsuit, Menard approached the pair in his police car and asked if Brynjolfsson’s friend was OK, and “Brynjolfsson advised his friend that she does not have to answer Menard’s questions and they continued walking until Brynjolfsson saw his friend off at her home.”

After, Brynjolfsson claims he was walking home himself when he saw “Menard affronting another female person at her own truck.”

He says he told the officer to leave her alone.

The lawsuit claims Menard came over and started punching him “repeatedly in the face causing him to fall down, hitting his head against the sidewalk, continuing to punch him and violently restrain him with a painful arm hold.”

None of the allegations have been proven in court, and the RCMP has not filed a statement of defence yet.

The lawsuit says that Brynjolfsson was bleeding, but neither Menard nor the officers who arrived as back-up got him medical help.

Brynjolfsson was arrested and sent to the drunk tank. He was charged with resisting arrest and obstructing a peace officer.

Those charges were stayed “and resolved by way of adult diversion,” the lawsuit says, without offering details.

He says he suffered a head injury, cuts and bruises and severely damaged his right shoulder, which will require surgery in the future.

Brynjolfsson says Menard used excessive force that was “applied with malice, and with the intention of injuring Brynjolfsson and/or with the knowledge that said force was excessive in the circumstances.”

He says the arrest was unlawful because Menard had no reason to believe he had committed a crime or was a threat.

Brynjolfsson claims he was denied rights protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He says he was arbitrarily detained, denied his rights to liberty and security and was not read his rights during his arrest.

He is seeking an unspecified amount of damages from either Menard or the Attorney General of Canada.

Nothing in the lawsuit explains why Brynjolfsson waited nearly two years to file the lawsuit. In the Yukon, cases alleging assault and battery have to be filed within two years.

RCMP spokesperson David Gilbert said he can’t comment on whether Brynjolfsson filed a complaint after his arrest or if the police ever investigated internally.

Meanwhile, ASIRT is still investigating the officer who appeared to punch Joshua Skookum during his arrest this year.

Video of the incident was recorded on a cell phone in a Jeckell Street home on Sunday, April 5.

In the short clip, which was posted to Facebook the same day, a police officer is seen swinging his fist towards Skookum’s face while trying to arrest him.

Police have said they need to be publicly responsible for their actions, which includes the use of force. But they also said the video only tells part of the story.

Lynn Crawford, a spokesperson for ASIRT, said the outside investigators are still looking into what happened on the video.

They plan to come back up to Whitehorse for more investigation.

They’re hoping to have the investigation complete by the end of June, she said.

It’s ASIRT’s policy not to name officers they are investigating or the people who make allegations.

They’re currently reviewing that policy when it comes to naming civilians. But police officers’ names are only released if they are charged with a criminal offence, she said.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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