A Whitehorse man is taking the Attorney General of Canada to court over alleged racial discrimination during two interactions with RCMP officers and a pattern of traffic stops.
The civil suit launched by Mandeep Singh Sidhu, 36, was originally filed in 2014. It is now in Yukon Supreme Court. The case, which began Aug. 2, is expected to take as long as two weeks.
The case focuses on two incidents, one in 2012 and one in 2016, in which Sidhu claims he was racially profiled based on his East Indian descent.
In court documents Sidhu claims he has been the target of a disproportionate number of roadside stops based on his race and also treated differently once stopped.
Sidhu was stopped at an impaired driving check stop late at night in December 2012. He claims that despite not being impaired and providing a valid driver’s license he was pulled over for further investigation by one of the officers.
Sidhu claims the officer, Constable Andrew West, treated him differently based on his race.
Sidhu called 9-1-1 to complain about the incident and met with another RCMP officer, Cpl. Natasha Dunmall, the following evening. The statement of claim says that Sidhu made it clear that West’s actions were continuing a pattern of discrimination against him and expected an investigation into the officer’s actions to be launched.
Instead, the police began investigating Sidhu for threatening West. The statement of claim says there was no reasonable grounds for this.
A statement of defence filed on behalf of the Attorney General denies almost all of the facts that Sidhu claims. It denies that race was a factor in how Sidhu was treated at the stop. It also details the statements Sidhu was alleged to have made which led police to arrest him on an uttering threats charge three days after the roadside stop.
Sidhu was at his workplace in the presence of customers when he was arrested. He alleges the arrest was unnecessarily dramatic and an officer, constable Matthew Leggett, injured him during transportation to the courthouse. The suit alleges excessive force as Sidhu was being loaded into and taken out of the police car, as well as rapid braking which caused him to hit his head on the inside of the car.
The statement of defence goes on to deny that any excessive force took place, instead saying that Sidhu deliberately hit his face on the barrier between driver and passenger in the police car.
Sidhu was eventually acquitted of the uttering threats charge.
The second roadside stop in June 2016 is also detailed in Sidhu’s statement of claim. He claims he was stopped at a check stop on the highway between Whitehorse and Watson Lake and ticketed for speeding when he was not. He said a Caucasian driver who admitted to speeding before the check stop was let go without a ticket.
The statement of defence claims Sidhu had been observed speeding as confirmed by a radar gun. It says Sidhu remained at the check stop and continued to yell at police officers after receiving his ticket.
The court case, still in its preliminary stages, had not ruled on any of the facts asserted in the statement of claim or statement of defence as of Aug. 3.
Contact Jim Elliot at firstname.lastname@example.org