A former Hells Angel is suing Ottawa police for false arrest, alleging he was charged with illegally possessing weed even after he showed officers a medical marijuana licence issued by Health Canada for treatment of his post-traumatic stress disorder.
In a statement of claim filed in Ottawa court, Michael Clairoux says he injured himself when he fell during a panic attack while in custody following the arrest on July 1, 2014. As well, he says, the arrest has aggravated his PTSD symptoms.
According to the statement, Clairoux was watching a Canada Day music show in the ByWard Market when two police officers took exception to his Hells Angels T-shirt and told him to leave. Clairoux, 42, claims he offered to go to a friends to change his shirt, but was told by Const. Nick Benard that he could not return.
As Clairoux and his friends left, police demanded that one person show identification, according to the court filing. Clairoux told his friend that police had no legal right to ask for ID and he didnt have to comply, the statement says.
Officers became angry and continued to insist that (the friend) identify himself and provide a drivers licence or identification, according to the claim filed by lawyer Bruce Simpson.
The filing says Clairoux, who had begun to experience a high level of anxiety and feared a panic attack, reached for his medical marijuana. He showed police his licence but was arrested for illegal possession anyway, according to the claim.
Clairoux was released from custody after signing an undertaking to stay away from the ByWard Market. Police seized his Health Canada licence and four grams of marijuana, the statement says.
The charge was withdrawn before Clairouxs first scheduled court appearance and his licence was returned days later. The marijuana, however, was not, according to the claim.
Clairoux is suing to recover $2,000 in legal expenses, and is also seeking $60,000 in general and punitive damages.
The statement details Clairouxs claimed injuries: While still in police custody, the plaintiff suffered a serious panic attack and fell to the ground and suffered injuries to his left shoulder, his right knee, and strained his lower back. In addition to the physical injuries, and of greater significance, the incident has affected the plaintiffs post-traumatic stress syndrome. The effects have included difficulty sleeping.
The plaintiff has also suffered a number of panic attacks, or near panic attacks, when police officers have approached or been in close vicinity to the plaintiff, the claim states.
Before his Canada Day arrest, Clairouxs PTSD was beginning to improve. But as a result of the detainment, his PTSD is now more debilitating than it ever was, according to the filing.
The statement of claim also says that the Ottawa police officer had no authority to dictate Clairouxs clothing of choice.
A lawyer for the City of Ottawa has filed a notice of intention to defend against the suit. The city declined to comment for this story. Clairouxs allegations have not been tested in court.
Postmedia has learned that Ottawa police later decided that the incident was non-criminal and authorized the release of the marijuana to Clairoux in October 2014. Clairouxs lawyer, however, says his client never got his medical weed back.
The law has to be applied the same to everyone, said Simpson.
Clairoux was in criminal court earlier last week to relax his bail conditions related to an unrelated marijuana arrest in February 2015. The former Hells Angel is facing trial on alleged marijuana trafficking.
A judge varied his strict bail conditions on Tuesday so Clairoux can now go to the gym five days a week under supervision of a surety.
Were pleased that the court relaxed his conditions because he was under virtual house arrest, said defence lawyer Diane Condo, who filed the successful motion in Ontario Superior Court.
News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Ex-Hells Angel Sues Ottawa Cops Over Medical Marijuana Bust
Author: Gary Dimmock
Photo Credit: Ashley Fraser
Website: Toronto Sun