A Carcross man assaulted by an RCMP officer in 2015 has now launched a civil suit in the case.
Duke Beattie’s suit was recently filed in the Yukon Supreme Court against Const. Jason Potter, Const. Daniel Rouleau, the RCMP, and the Attorney General of Canada.
It alleges malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office or that the officers were negligent in their arrest and investigation of Beattie.
It also alleges that Potter and Rouleau breached Beattie’s charter of rights.
Beattie is claiming general, special, aggravated and punitive damages, costs, and pre-judgment interests.
The suit arises from Const. Potter’s May 2015 assault of Beattie while he was intoxicated and handcuffed in the backseat of an RCMP vehicle.
In August 2015, Potter pleaded guilty to the assault.
In April 2016, he was given a conditional discharge with nine months’ probation and 40 hours of community service.
According to court documents, Beattie was arrested at around 8 p.m. on May 15, 2015 for allegedly breaching a probation order by consuming or possessing alcohol outside of his residence.
While he was transporting Beattie to Whitehorse, the suit states, “Potter put the brakes on in a very sudden manner, stopped the car, exited the front seat, and opened the back door where the Plaintiff was detained and in handcuffs.
“He then grabbed the Plaintiff by the neck and hit the Plaintiff’s head with force and a closed fist multiple times while telling the Plaintiff that he was going to kill him.”
The assault, recorded by cameras in the RCMP vehicle, lasted about 38 seconds.
The officers alleged that prior to the assault, Beattie threatened Potter and his family.
However, this could not be confirmed by the recording of the incident due to poor audio quality. Beattie denies the allegations.
According to the suit, following the assault, the officers turned off the audio portion of the in-car video system – which is contrary to RCMP policy.
It also alleges that officers created written reports that misrepresented the incident.
In addition to breach of probation, Beattie was charged with uttering threats to cause bodily harm to Rouleau, Potter and Potter’s wife; resisting arrest by Rouleau; and being assaultive to correctional officers at the processing unit.
These three additional charges were withdrawn by Crown counsel on June 22, 2015.
As a result of the assault, the suit claims, Beattie sustained an injury to his eye and head, depression and anxiety.
It also states that Beattie “has suffered and continues to suffer from humiliation, loss of self-esteem, a loss of enjoyment of life, physical pain and emotional suffering, and a loss of earnings past and prospective.”
While Rouleau verbally told Potter to stop during the assault, the suit says, he did nothing further to protect Beattie.
The suit claims damages and costs alleging that:
• the assault was done willfully and with the intent to inflict harm;
• Rouleau was negligent and in default of his public duty as a police officer in failing to prevent the assault and/or condoned and was complicit in the assault;
• Rouleau breached a duty of care owed to Beattie and is liable in negligence;
• there was a breach of trust by Potter and Rouleau in not protecting Beattie;
• Canada was negligent in failing to adequately train, supervise, and support Potter and Rouleau, giving rise to a breach of standard of care; and
• the conduct of both officers was “high-handed, egregious and grossly contrary to the standard of conduct and public expectations of a police officer.”
The defendants have yet to respond to the suit, and the allegations have not been heard in court.
During sentencing for the assault conviction, Potter’s lawyer described the incident as a moment of anger and rage that built up over time.
The court also heard about the challenges of policing small communities in the Yukon.
It also heard that the RCMP were aware of officers’ safety concerns and allowed both Potter and Rouleau to bring their service weapons home and paid for video surveillance of their residences. They also paid for a 10-foot fence for Potter’s home.
The criminal case also made Yukon legal history as the first time a judge formally heard about the impact of a crime on a community.
The Carcross community impact statement included concerns by some Carcross community members about the negative impact of the incident.
“People are concerned that this incident has further fractured an already segregated community,” it read.
“This has tainted interracial relationships and the thugs and bullies are winning.”