Sudbury

Defence starts to present evidence in civil case alleging assault by Sault OPP

The defence has started calling its witnesses in a civil case alleging wrongful arrest and assault by members of the OPP in Sault Ste. Marie.

Sault-area family seeking $2 million in damages

Daniel Knox, his son Harrison Knox and daughter Sherry Cole, are seeking $1.5 million in damages in a civil lawsuit against the OPP.

The defence has started calling its witnesses in a civil case alleging wrongful arrest and assault by members of the OPP in Sault Ste. Marie.

Daniel Knox, his son Harrison Knox and daughter Sherry Cole, are seeking $1.5 million in damages in the civil lawsuit. They are also looking for $250,000 for breaches of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as $250,000 for punitive damages.

It's related to an incident that happened on June 11, 2014. OPP were called for a traffic complaint involving a vehicle owned by Daniel Knox's company, Treemen & A Chainsaw. The vehicle was being driven by Harrison Knox.

All three family members and another employee of the company were charged with various offences, including assault, resisting arrest and obstructing police. All charges were withdrawn later in 2014.

The officers named in the claim are Constable Luigi Bruni, Constable Mario Posteraro, Constable Peter Van Den Diepstraten, Constable Keith Nicolle and Sergeant Ken Spahr.

On Friday, Cindy Grenier testified. She and her mother phoned the police about the traffic complaint.

Grenier said they were driving home on Highway 17 north of Sault Ste. Marie, when they saw a red truck veer out into oncoming traffic to pass a vehicle. She said vehicles heading in the other direction had to brake and go on the side of the road to avoid a collision. She also said the vehicle that was passed had to move off to the side as well.

Grenier said they followed the truck as it pulled into a parking lot, along with another vehicle that the company truck passed on the highway. She said they put their vehicle in front of the truck, with the intention of trying to keep them off the road, get the licence plate and phone police. 

Grenier said she got out and asked the men in the company truck what was going on. She said she told them they almost caused a collision. She said her mother phoned 911.

She said she then spoke with the driver who was passed and she said she asked them to block in the company vehicle from the back, which she said they did.

"I just didn't want them leaving until the police got there because I thought there was something wrong with them," she said.

"I just thought it was the right thing to do at the time. I didn't want them to cause an accident elsewhere."

'Everybody was upset'

She said she got back in her vehicle. She said the men in the company truck and the men in the other vehicle yelled at each other. She said the driver of the company truck got into his truck and hit her vehicle and the one behind him.

Grenier said police arrived and she saw them arrest the driver of the company vehicle, Harrison Knox, and put him in the back of a cruiser.

Not long after that, Grenier said she saw Daniel Knox and his daughter, Sherry Cole, arrive. She said she saw Knox open the police cruiser where his son Harrison was inside. At that point, she said she heard an officer yelling for Knox to not open the door and to stop.

She said she saw Daniel Knox push an officer.

"Everybody was upset and angry," she said. "Everybody was just arguing."

Knox testified earlier in the trial he was hit with a stun gun, or Taser, twice by police. Grenier said she didn't see that happen but said she saw police putting him in a cruiser not long after.

"It looked like a struggle to get him in there," she said.

"It looked like [Knox] was trying to fight to get in there, maybe trying to resist a little. It looked like they were having a hard time getting him in the car."

The case is scheduled to resume Oct. 3.

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