TORONTO – Four black Toronto teenagers who were stopped by police and thrown in jail two years ago have filed a lawsuit against the officers alleging they were targeted because of their race.
The suit alleges the officers had no reasonable or probable grounds to believe Buraa Abdulkadir, Burhan Abdulkadir, Yohannes Brhanu and Muathe Mahdi had committed an offence on Nov. 21, 2011.
A statement of claim alleges the two officers who stopped the teens “acted with improper motives including racial bias, malice and bad faith” toward them and used excessive force against Buraa Abdulkadir.
It alleges two more officers committed assault and battery when they strip searched Abdulkadir without his consent at the police station, and accuses the booking sergeant of negligence.
The Toronto Police Services Board is also named in the suit, accused of allowing police to run a program that has allegedly led to widespread harassment of young black males.
None of the allegations have been proven in court, and neither the officers nor the board have filed a statement of defence. A spokeswoman for Toronto police declined to comment, saying the matter is before the court.
The plaintiffs, who were all high school students and between 15 and 16 years old at the time, initially faced several charges but all were eventually withdrawn. Each is seeking $100,000 in damages.
The four had just left the north Toronto public housing apartment where the Abdulkadir brothers lived when they were stopped by two constables, Adam Lourenco and Sharnal Pais, the document alleges.
The teens were asked to show identification, but said they didn’t have any with them and offered to have the brothers’ mother vouch for them, it says.
After being told he wasn’t under arrest, Buraa Abdulkadir tried to leave, having recently learned from a judge that he didn’t have to identify himself to police without cause, the suit says.
The statement alleges Lourenco then pushed Abdulkadir and punched him in the abdomen and head.
It says the officer also drew his gun and threatened to shoot the other teens when they asked what their friend had done wrong.
All four were handcuffed and searched without their consent before they were taken to jail, the document says.
They were not, however, told the reason for their arrest nor that they had the right to speak to a lawyer, the suit alleges.
Abdulkadir was allegedly strip searched by two other constables, Greg Browne and Jon Maslak.
The suit also alleges Sgt. Theodore Windmoller, who was in charge of the station at the time, “negligently failed to take the necessary steps to ensure that strip searches conducted under his authority are lawful, authorized and properly documented.”
“The actions of PC Lourenco and PC Pais were high-handed, malicious, arbitrary and highly reprehensible misconduct that departs to a marked degree from ordinary standards of decent behaviour required of police officers,” the document reads.
It also argues that punitive damages are required to ensure the police board develops policies to prevent similar incidents in the future.