A Kamloops police officer is being sued after a pair of unlawful arrests in 2017 led to claims of police brutality and an assertion that a Mountie lied in court — allegations not denied last year by a provincial court judge who ruled that the officer’s description of events was problematic.
RCMP Const. Lane Tobin accused a Westsyde couple of assaulting him during a call nearly two years ago. Mark and Olive Klassen were exonerated by a Kamloops judge following a trial last year.
At the conclusion of the trial, provincial court Judge Chris Cleaveley called Tobin’s testimony “troublesome.”
Mark and Olive Klassen have now filed a notice of civil claim in B.C. Supreme Court seeking unspecified compensation for multiple physical injuries, lost income, legal fees to defend against criminal charges, as well as aggravated and punitive damages, among others.
The claim alleges serious police misconduct.
“The plaintiffs claim that Const. Tobin and other RCMP members intentionally inflicted emotional distress on the plaintiffs during and after the plaintiffs’ arrest,” the claim reads. “Const. Tobin intentionally caused the plaintiffs emotional distress by forwarding charges for approval to Crown counsel and by lying at trial about the basis for their arrest.”
The incident began when Olive Klassen called 911 on Feb. 17, 2017, to report what she thought was the smell of natural gas. The call ended abruptly when her cordless landline phone’s battery died mid-call, prompting a police response per RCMP policy.
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Court heard a chemical discharge at the Domtar pulp mill led to a rash of odour complaints on the day police responded to the Klassens’ home.
In court, Tobin said he arrived at the scene and quickly determined “things didn’t add up.” He said he told the Klassens he needed to search their home.
Olive Klassen warned Tobin not to enter the home, fearing there was a gas leak inside. She said in court she did so out of concern for the officer’s safety.
Tobin attempted to enter the home and a physical altercation ensued. Tobin claimed in court he arrested Olive Klassen after she assaulted her husband during the altercation — a claim Cleaveley found to be untrue.
Olive Klassen was placed in handcuffs following a physical struggle with Tobin. She said he choked her and claimed she believed she would die in the struggle. She said she was “stomped” by another Mountie following her arrest.
Klassen said Tobin pushed her down a set of porch stairs during the incident, something defence lawyer Jay Michi described as “a gross use of force.” Klassen said Tobin called her “trailer trash” and claimed he was “trained to kill.”
“There was no basis on which Const. Tobin could arrest Ms. Klassen,” Cleaveley said following last year’s trial, noting Tobin was “exceeding his authority.”
A BC Sheriffs Service deputy, Rhonda Anderson, also took the stand during the trial, describing an incident in which Olive Klassen became hysterical after arriving at the Kamloops Law Courts days after her arrest.
The Klassens showed up at the building hoping to speak with a lawyer about their rights following the incident with Tobin, court heard.
Olive Klassen broke down in tears and fell to the ground after she saw Anderson in her sheriff uniform. At trial, Klassen said her reaction was due to her being traumatized following the incident with Tobin.
Anderson changed from her uniform to street clothes to help calm Olive Klassen. She also detailed in court bruising on Klassen’s body she saw while the women were in a public washroom inside the courthouse — injuries alleged to have been inflicted by Tobin during the course of the illegal arrest.
The Crown has appealed the Klassens’ acquittal. An appeal hearing is slated to take place on April 8 in B.C. Supreme Court.
Tobin has not yet filed a response to the lawsuit. He continues to work as a regular member of the Kamloops RCMP detachment.
None of the allegations in the notice of claim have been proven in court.