A man who was allegedly kneed several times by a Regina police officer during an arrest is now seeking damages in court.
A statement of claim filed on behalf of 35-year-old Rocky Lonechild last week at the Court of Queen's Bench in Regina names the Regina Police Board of Commissioners, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), three first responders employed by the SHA and a member of the Regina Police Service.
Video apparently of Lonechild's arrest posted to YouTube showed police officers chasing and pushing him to the ground. Two officers were then seen holding him on the ground, while a third watched.
The video then appeared to show a fourth officer enter the frame, join the two holding Lonechild on the ground and strike Lonechild with his knee several times.
Lonechild's family previously said this ribs were broken and he suffered a punctured and collapsed lung in the altercation.
Lonechild's statement of claim said the first three officers arrested him using appropriate use of force measures.
The unnamed fourth member of the Regina Police Service was responsible for kneeing Lonechild at least four times, the claim said.
The officer was also responsible for keeping Lonechild's arms in a position that made it difficult for him to breath and placing him into a cruiser in a manner which caused Lonechild to fall unconsious due to pain and lack of oxygen from his injuries, the statement said. It said these actions violated Lonechild's rights in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The board of police commissioners was named as being liable for the officer's actions, which the statement said amounted to four "actionable offences" including assault, battery, trespass and negligence.
The SHA and the three first responders were responsible for providing Lonechild with "inadequate medical care," the statement said.
The first responders allegedly did not check Lonechild's vitals, failed to take complaints about his breathing struggles seriously, failed to provide medical services related to his breathing problems and allowed police to handcuff his left arm above his head in the ambulance.
"This position caused Mr. Lonechild additional pain and difficulty breathing," the statement said.
"Mr. Lonechild advised first responders that his right arm was handcuffed near his waist and requested his left arm be similarly placed."
The statement of claim said the SHA was named because the first responders were employed by the health authority.
The Regina Police Service said it was aware of the statement of claim, but could not comment on the matter.
The SHA said in an emailed statement that it was served with the statement of claim, was in the process of preparing a statement of defence and could not comment further.
Public, not courts, decide policy change: lawyer
Last week, lawyer Dan LeBlanc and members of Lonechild's family gathered outside the Court of Queen's Bench in Regina after the statement of claim was filed.
Lonechild is seeking legal and damage-related compensation, prejudgment interest and charter damages, to be determined by the court.
LeBlanc said he and the family were asking the courts to weigh in on whether or not what happened to Lonechild was legal.
He said he and the family are hoping to push for systematic changes outside of the courts, rather than inside them.
This is a time, he said, for the public to decide whether or not what happened to Lonechild should be legal.
LeBlanc said if the public decides what happened to Lonechild should not be legal, then it's time for a serious discussion on the use-of-force matter throughout Saskatchewan.
"That could be changes to the way we police in Regina or it could mean changes to the way the Police Act reads and the amount of immunity it provides to officers," LeBlanc suggested.
"That's, in my view, a political question rather than a legal one."
Family advocate Carmel Crowchild spoke on behalf of Lonechild's family, who also attended the gathering.
She said Lonechild is currently serving time in prison for a crime unrelated to his arrest last December.
Crowchild called on residents of Saskatchewan to step-up and decide what they see as right or wrong when it comes to police brutality.
"Contact your MLAs. Contact your political leaders. Contact FSIN. Contact every city official, because they are the ones who hired these individuals to police us," she said.
"On a political level, ask yourself, if that was your child, was that acceptable behaviour to you, as a mother or father?"