Officer sues over Peel arrestSays he was trying to file complaint
Assault charges laid, later droppedApr. 7, 2006. 06:36 AM
When a Toronto police officer went to Peel police to file a criminal harassment complaint against a woman he says wouldn't leave him alone, he left the station charged with two counts of assault.
Const. Duane Simon, an 18-year veteran of the Toronto force, said he couldn't believe what was happening to him. He was locked in a room inside a Peel police station, he said, and claims his complaint was not taken seriously and he was never read his rights.
Those are the allegations filed in a $9.5 million lawsuit against the Mississauga woman he claims harassed him, Peel Regional Police Service and three Peel officers. None of the allegations in the lawsuit has been proven in court.
Peel police declined to comment on the case. A statement of defence has not yet been filed in court.
"The breaches of his Charter rights were flagrant," Simon's lawyer Selwyn Pieters told the Toronto Star. The lawsuit seeks damages for false arrest, false imprisonment, abuse of public office, injurious falsehoods, negligent investigation and breach of his Charter rights.
In a statement of claim filed in court this week, Simon claims he was being harassed by a female friend who refused to stop calling him and showing up at his house. On May 24, 2004, and dates following, Simon alleges, the woman showed up at his Brampton house uninvited claiming she loved him. He told her to leave and when she refused, Simon "was compelled to remove (her) from his home to protect himself, his fiancée, his tenants and his home."
As is permitted by law, Simon claims he used "minimal and reasonable force" to make the woman leave.
Simon told the woman "each time that she surprised him at his home that she must leave immediately. Despite his clear directions ... and warnings, (she) would not leave on her own accord. She continued to wilfully trespass in his home to confront Duane Simon ... and to vent her anger and jealousy," the statement of claim alleges.
`If they can do this to me, they can do it to anyone. ... I've lost all faith in Peel police.'
Const. Duane Simon, Toronto police force
Eventually Simon, 42, went to Peel police. He told them he wanted to file a criminal harassment complaint against the woman. He said he had cellphone records to substantiate his claims and witnesses who could support his allegations.
But when he was led to a room to make a statement, he was locked in for about 45 minutes. When an officer returned, he was charged with two counts of assault.
Six months later, the charges were withdrawn.
Unbeknownst to Simon, earlier that day the woman went to police and alleged he had assaulted her.
"They had a legal obligation to tell me I was the subject of a criminal complaint," he said.
He claims the woman gave three inconsistent statements. In one, she alleges he pushed her and she took two steps back; in another, she said he grabbed her by the neck and pushed her down patio stairs.
When Simon was charged criminally, he claims an officer told him, "I don't think I need to explain your rights, okay."
Pieters said he worries that if a veteran police officer can be treated this way, others will be too. "How can you tell someone you don't need your rights explained?" he asked.
Simon — a native of Antigua who moved to Canada as a child — married his fiancée but the stress of the charges and the alleged harassment in part led to a breakdown of the marriage, the claim states.
The officer said he felt like he was under a cloud of suspicion after he was criminally charged. While facing the assault charges, he was not able to carry his police-issued gun and was unable to perform normal work duties. The stress of the situation also prevented him from applying for a promotion, he says.
"Duane Simon pleads that he suffered mental, emotional and physical pain and anguish as a result of the defendant officers' actions," the lawsuit states.
Normally when an officer is charged criminally, he is also charged internally under the Police Services Act. Simon was never charged under the police act.
"I know what it is like to be on the side of a police officer. If they can do this to me, they can do it to anyone. Anyone regardless of their race, profession, whatever, is entitled to a fair and proper investigation," Simon said. "I've lost all faith in Peel police."