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Civil trial involving OPP begins today, eight years after incident at centre of case

Three weeks have been set aside to hear the case
The Sault Ste. Marie Courthouse is pictured in this file photo. Michael Purvis/SooToday

A civil trial, scheduled to begin today, at the Sault Ste. Marie courthouse, stems from an aggressive driving complaint eight years ago.

Superior Court Justice Edward Gareau is hearing the lawsuit, launched by a local family, which is seeking $2 million in damages from the Ontario Provincial Police and provincial government.

Three weeks have been set aside to hear the case.

In a statement of claim, filed in 2016 and amended in 2017, Daniel Knox, his daughter Sherry Cole and son Harrison Knox allege they were unlawfully arrested and assaulted by OPP officers on June 11, 2014.

The statement of claim has not been proven in court.

In a news release, the the plaintiffs' lawyer Darvin Charney said the senior Knox was tasered twice during the incident.

Some of the taser use was caught on video, the Toronto attorney said.

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

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

It was alleged that a northbound red pickup truck 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 behind it, also had to take evasive action, the OPP reported at the time.

Vehicles involved in the situation pulled into a parking lot at the intersection of the two highways.

An altercation erupted, police were called and charges were laid.

Daniel Knox was charged with obstructing police and two counts each of assaulting police and resisting arrest.

Sherry Cole faced a count of obstructing police, while her brother Harrison Knox was charged with dangerous operation and assault.

In December 2014, it was reported that the charges against the four people had been withdrawn.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit 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.

The defendants named in the suit are five OPP officers -- Const. Luigi Bruni, Const. Keith Nicolle, Const. Mario Posteraro, Const. Peter Van Den Diepstraten and Sgt. Ken Spahr -- and the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

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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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