Neighbour dispute leads to suit against Ottawa cops



A nasty neighbourhood dispute has led to a wrongful arrest lawsuit against two Ottawa police officers and the Ottawa Police Services Board.

In the statement of claim filed Monday, Ottawa residents George and Mineta Albina are asking for $50,000 for "negligent investigation, wrongful arrest and malicious prosecution" and another $25,000 in punitive damages stemming from a dispute in the fall of 2013.

According to the lawsuit, the incident was sparked by a dispute between next-door neighbours over the property lines at the Albinas' house on Vancouver Ave.

The relationship between the neighbours was strained during a confrontation in the driveway that was captured on Albina's home security footage.

But after the neighbour called the cops, the investigating officer didn't view the footage, didn't interview a witness, and "refused to identify himself, or provide a card or badge number," then threatened to arrest George Albina and charge him with "menacing" his neighbour.

After Albina erected a construction fence between properties in the late fall of 2013, the neighbours phoned Bylaw Services in protest as tensions escalated, but according to the Albinas, they "unfailingly respected the property lines and minded their own business."

Meanwhile, a number of incidents of "trespass, harassment and vandalism" were captured by Albina's security cameras and transferred to DVD.

When Mineta Albina handed the DVD to a client of the neighbour -- with the purpose of delivering the disc to the neighbour -- police were again called and the same officer told the Albinas their actions constituted criminal defamation and libel.

The Albinas then decided to pursue the property dispute in small claims court.

According to the statement, Mineta Albina stepped on her neighbour's property for the first time on Dec. 16 to serve notice of the claim while her husband videotaped the exchange from a parked car.

The neighbour again called police, where the same officer informed Mineta Albina she was being charged with criminal harassment and mischief.

"The officer was completely indifferent to the fact that the charges stemmed from lawfully handing an envelope to (the neighbour)," the claim states.

The officer "demanded" the woman sign a peace bond without allowing the document to be reviewed by a lawyer, the claim alleges, and the officer told Mineta that if she did not sign, "he would handcuff her and keep her in jail until she did sign it."

George Albina said he was also threatened with charges of obstruction of justice.

The claim alleges the Albina family have been "publicly humiliated" by police cruisers parked in front of the property, and that Mineta Albina "may be experiencing a nervous breakdown" as a result of the investigation and prosecution.

Ottawa police have yet to file a statement of defence, and none of the allegations have been proven in court.