'He didn't die for nothing': Anthony Aust's family files lawsuit against police board
Friday evening vigil marked the 2-year anniversary of Aust's death
The family of an Ottawa man who died after a no-knock raid in October 2020 is suing the Ottawa Police Services Board, alleging officers played a direct role in his death.
Anthony Aust's family announced the lawsuit Friday ahead of a vigil at the Elgin Street police station that marked the second anniversary of the 23-year-old's death.
"We haven't seen any change ... There is no realization. There is no remorse," his mother Nhora told CBC at the vigil. "There's no justice. It breaks my heart, over and over."
Aust fell 12 storeys from his family's apartment on Oct. 7, 2020, after heavily armed SWAT officers rushed into the home in a manoeuvre sometimes called a no-knock entry.
Court documents showed that police expected to find a handgun in the raid. They found drugs and cash but no gun.
Human rights lawyer Yavar Hameed will be representing the family. The statement of claim was filed with the Ontario Court of Justice on Oct. 6 and seeks damages totalling more than $3 million.
In an interview with CBC, Hameed said the lawsuit goes beyond the findings by Ontario's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) published last September, which focused on the issue of criminal negligence and cleared all officers of wrongdoing.
The SIU has a mandate to investigate police conduct that may have resulted in death, serious injury, sexual assault or the discharge of a firearm at someone.
Alleges Charter rights were violated
"This is about getting accountability, getting transparency, getting some kind of deterrent [to prevent] the Ottawa Police Service [from] adopting similar kinds of techniques," Hameed said.
"There needs to be explicit contemplation of the human cost."
The lawsuit alleges the police entry caused Aust's death and violated the Charter rights of those who were present in the apartment.
"A legal remedy can never make the family whole," Hameed said. "But it does provide some modicum for the family to move forward."
CBC has reached out Coun. Eli El-Chantiry, chair of the police board, for comment.
'He remains here'
Friends and family of Aust who attended Friday's vigil said the community is still grieving his loss. Vigil organizer Aisha Benslimane said Aust's death was not an isolated incident.
"These are the big losses we see and hear about, but our communities are under attack on a daily basis," Benslimane said. "One of the only ways we can demand justice for Anthony Aust is if we defund, disarm and dismantle the police."
Nhora Aust said she remains hopeful police will learn a lesson from her son's death.
"He didn't die for nothing," she said. "Even though his body is gone, he remains here."
With files from Avanthika Anand