The Winnipeg Police Department is being sued after a man’s civil rights were violated when he was racially profiled and an officer used excessive force when engaging him in a 2020 incident. The claim also alleges officers had no reasonable grounds to stop the complainant, who prior to the incident had no criminal history.
On Monday, June 20, a statement of claim was filed by Martin Pollock on behalf of Fabian Lincoln Junior Ross against a WPD officer Jeffrey Rotinsky in Manitoba’s Court of Queen’s Bench in Canada.
The complaint alleges, according to the Canadian press, the officer “acted in a high-handed, arrogant and malicious manner” when he stopped Ross solely because of his race, used unjustified excessive physical force during their exchange, and falsely charged him with assaulting a police officer.
Ross said he was not “actively resisting” Rotinsky, nor did he threaten the law official in any way.
As a result, Ross sustained bodily harm, including a broken eye socket and nerve damage.
Ross states he was waiting for a friend outside of his home on July 14, 2020, in an alley connecting Brazier and Roch streets, between Johnson and Chalmers Avenues, in a rented parked car when Rotinsky drove up alongside his vehicle in an unmarked police SUV. Rotinsky asked Ross what he was doing and where he was going.
The Black man says he answered the officer truthfully, saying he was “waiting for his friend” and then going to another neighborhood called Transcona.
After hearing this, the cop asked Ross to put his hands where he could see them. Ross obliged the request, the claim alleges. It further states the officer exited his vehicle, approached Ross’ car and opened the door. Rotinsky then reached in and pulled Ross from the car and allegedly ordered him to get on the ground.
The claim says this is the first time Ross said “no,” prompting Rotinsky to allegedly punch Ross in the side of his head for not complying, following the act with two more strikes to the back of his head and neck. During the conflict, Rotinskey allegedly breaks Ross’ eye socket.
After falling to the ground, Rotinsky is said to have cuffed him and radioed for additional support from other officers.
Ross was arrested for resisting a peace officer, however, four hours later he was released from custody.
His record remains clean without convictions or outstanding charges, however, the damage was still done.
Days after the incident, Ross had to go get medical attention in Selkirk for injuries sustained at the hands of the officer. After receiving a CT scan, he was referred to a plastic surgeon to address said injuries. Those doctors told him he had a broken orbital bone but it would heal without him having to go under any surgical procedure.
In his lawsuit, Ross claims he was never advised that he was being placed under arrest. He says the officer also never had a conversation about any of the allegations against him.
Ross is seeking damages for the injuries, as well as compensation for the alleged violations of his charter rights.
WPD says it has not been served with the lawsuit, nor has publicly shared Rotinsky’s status with the police agency.
The incident has not yet been investigated by Manitoba’s police watchdog, the Independent Investigation Unit. The police have not forwarded the incident complaint to the unit’s attention.