Siding with a lower-court ruling that described a Kamloops police officer’s account of the situation as “troublesome,” a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled Friday in favour of a city couple after prosecutors appealed their acquittal following a trial on allegations they assaulted a police officer.
Olive and Mark Klassen were charged following an incident at their Westsyde home on Feb. 18, 2017. Olive Klassen called 911 to report what she believed to have been a gas leak but her cordless phone died before she spoke to an operator, prompting an automatic police response.
Kamloops RCMP Const. Lane Tobin arrived at the Klassens’ home and became involved in a physical altercation with Olive Klassen. Tobin claimed he was protecting Mark Klassen from a violent attack at the hands of his wife, but Olive Klassen denied any such animosity, becoming extremely emotional during her testimony in court.
Olive Klassen described being pushed down the steps of her porch by Tobin and being told by the officer she was “trailer trash.” She also said she was lifted into the air against Tobin’s RCMP cruiser, resulting in her pants falling down.
In his testimony, Tobin claimed he was “exhausted” following his interactions with the 51-year-old woman, something Kamloops provincial court Judge Chris Cleaveley called “an exaggeration.”
A deputy with the B.C. Sheriffs Service also testified about extensive bruising she saw on Olive Klassen’s body days after the incident. The deputy was trying to calm the woman down when she showed up at the Kamloops Law Courts looking to hire a lawyer.
In May, Cleaveley ruled Tobin had no legal grounds to arrest Olive Klassen, making his altercation with her illegal. Cleaveley called Tobin’s credibility “troublesome.”
Crown prosecutor Neil Wiberg appealed that decision on a number of grounds, including the legality of the arrest and a failure by Cleaveley to articulate his reasons sufficient for appeal.
On appeal, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Dev Dley sided with the Klassens.
“There were no grounds upon which the officer was entitled to make the arrest,” he said. “I therefore conclude the trial judge did not err.”
In January, the Klassens filed a notice of civil claim against Tobin 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.
None of the allegations in the notice of claim have been proven in court.