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Civil trial alleging OPP assault in 2014 to resume in October

After seven days of testimony, the trial was adjourned
The Sault Ste. Marie Courthouse is pictured in this file photo.

A civil case, involving a local businessman, his family, and the Ontario Provincial Police, will resume in October at the Sault Ste. Marie courthouse.

Superior Court Justice Edward Gareau began hearing the lawsuit, which stems from an aggressive driving complaint eight years ago, in February.

After seven days of testimony, the trial was adjourned until Oct. 3 when it will resume for two weeks.

The June 11, 2014 incident involved a vehicle owned by Daniel Knox's company Tree Men and a Chainsaw.

Knox, his son Harrison, who was driving the vehicle, and daughter Sherry Cole are seeking $2 million in damages from the OPP and the provincial government.

In their statement of claim, the family alleges they were unlawfully arrested and assaulted by the police officers.

The senior Knox was tasered twice, his lawyer Darvin Charney said in a press release just before the trial began.

Some of the events, including the taser use, were captured on video, he said.

The plaintiffs'statement of claim has not been proven in court.

The defendants - five OPP officers and the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services - in their statement of defence denied all the allegations of assault, battery, false arrest and excessive use of force made by the plaintiffs.

They claimed the force used to arrest the plaintiffs was reasonable and a direct result of the plaintiffs' conduct.

The senior Knox and Cole were aggressive, belligerent, confrontational, violent and non-compliant with officers at the scene and resisted arrest, the defendants said in their statement.

Knox, his family members and another man were arrested after what the OPP described as an altercation following the driving complaint.

The incident occurred north of the Sault at the intersection of Highway 17 and Highway 556.

It was alleged that a northbound red pickup pulled into oncoming traffic and began to pass, forcing a grey SUV to take evasive action to avoid a collision.

A truck that was being passed by the pickup, and a second truck following it, also had to take evasive action, the OPP reported at the time.

The involved vehicles pulled into a parking lot at the the intersection of the two highways.

Police were called when an altercation erupted and charges were laid.

Daniel Knox, his son and daughter, along with the other man, were charged with various offences, including assault, resisting arrest and obstructing police.

In Decmber 2014, it was reported that the charges had been withdrawn.

This occurred on Oct. 20, 2014 at which time Harrison Knox was placed on a common law peace bond in exchange for withdrawal of the assault and dangerous driving charges he faced.

Daniel Knox and Sherry Cole had their obstruct and assault charges diverted and each agreed to make $100 donations to charity.

The plaintiffs are claiming general damages of $1.5 million for negligence, assault, battery and false arrest. 

In addition, or as an alternative, they are seeking $250,000 for breaches of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and $250,000 in punitive damages.

OPP officers - Const. Luigi Bruni, Const. Mario Posteraro, Const. Peter Van Den Diepstraten, Const. Keith Nicolle and Sgt. Ken Spahr - along with the community services and correctional services ministry are named in the suit.

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About the Author: Linda Richardson

Linda Richardson is a freelance journalist who has been covering Sault Ste. Marie's courts and other local news for more than 45 years.
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