Edmonton

City of Edmonton won't compensate restaurant owners after police damaged building

The owners of a downtown Edmonton restaurant say the City of Edmonton has not compensated them for nearly $3,000 in damage police caused during an arrest outside the restaurant this summer.

Police acted under scope of their duties, so not liable for $3K in damages, city says

Kelsey Danyluk co-owns Tzin Wine and Tapas on 104th Street in downtown Edmonton. (Craig Ryan/CBC)

The owners of a downtown Edmonton restaurant say the City of Edmonton has not compensated them for nearly $3,000 in damages police caused during an arrest outside the restaurant this summer.

Kelsey Danyluk, who owns Tzin Wine and Tapas with her husband Glenn Quinn, said she received a phone call from the restaurant's alarm company around midnight on Aug. 10.

When she arrived on 104th Street at about 1 a.m., she found broken glass and damaged tiles. The restaurant's facade and outdoor speaker system had also been damaged.

"I just thought maybe someone was trying to get in," she told CBC News on Friday.

Inside the restaurant was a business card from an Edmonton Police Service officer. 

Over the phone, the officer told her EPS and the SWAT team had caused the damage during an arrest, either with flash-bangs or bean bags.

A flash-bang, also called a stun grenade, is an explosive device that emits a flash of light and loud noise, meant to temporarily disorient people. A bean bag gun is another non-lethal weapon that shoots pellets encased in fabric bags.

One of the windows broken during the arrest outside the restaurant. (Submitted by Kelsey Danyluk)

EPS spokesperson Cheryl Voordenhout said flash-bangs are used to distract or get the attention of a suspect in order to peacefully resolve a barricaded situation. She did not answer questions about the incident.

About two weeks later, Danyluk filed a property damage claim with the City of Edmonton. She and her husband do not own the building, but their landlord has billed them for cleaning and repair costs.

Four months later, on Dec. 16, a city claims adjuster told her in a letter that management had reviewed the claim and found no negligence on the part of the city or EPS. 

Citing Section 25 of the Criminal Code, the letter said police "acted under lawful authority" when they arrested an armed suspect outside the restaurant, using reasonable force to protect officers and the public. 

Tile damage resulting from an EPS flash-bang. (Submitted by Kelsey Danyluk)

"As such, the city cannot be held liable for the damages sustained to your property," the letter said, adding that the file had been closed and a final recourse was filing a claim in provincial court.

Danyluk said pursuing the matter in court is not practical, considering the amount of the claim, and filing a claim through private insurance could result in higher premiums. 

"We understand that life happens," she said, "but we do not feel we should be responsible for it."

The restaurant's front display window was also damaged. (Submitted by Kelsey Danyluk)

City spokesperson Lindsay Yarmon would not share details about Danyluk's case, citing privacy and legal reasons, but said in an email that city adjusters perform thorough investigations "to ensure that claims are handled properly and citizens are treated fairly."

"In doing so, the city is also responsible for protecting the city's interests as stewards of taxpayers' funds," she said.

She said in claims involving EPS, city adjusters examine whether police action was reasonable and appropriate, based on the opinions of subject-matter experts.

Danyluk has asked the city to review its decision and received an email from a city director about a week ago saying the matter was under review. 

"The process should be there just to compensate small business," she said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Madeleine Cummings is a reporter with CBC Edmonton. She covers local news and files for CBC Edmonton's web, radio and TV platforms. You can reach her at madeleine.cummings@cbc.ca.

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