Police in Canada are now finding themselves in the middle of a new legal battle. According to a claim filed in the BC Supreme Court, a Sikh man is suing the Surrey RCMP for ripping off turban from his head. The man claims he has suffered beyond injury from the incident.
According to The Province, a Sikh man from Abbotsford is suing the Surrey detachment of the RCMP after they allegedly ripped his turban off his head while he was in police custody. The notice of civil claim has been filed in the BC Supreme Court.
The notice states that Kanwaljit Singh was the only prisoner during the afternoon on June 30, 2017, to be in the booking area of the jail. At the time, he was in the presence of four to five cops.
He has claimed that at the time of the incident, he had his back against the booking officer's desk and was speaking to another police officer, who stood in a semicircle in front of him.
According to The Province, Sgt. Brian Blair joined the semicircle of officers. Despite the fact that Singh was being compliant, Blair approached Singh and ripped off his turban, then threw him onto the booking desk.
After this, three or four other officers allegedly grabbed Singh by his arms and took him out of the booking area and into a holding cell. While they were taking him there, Blair and another officer twisted his arm, causing him to be in pain.
They also allegedly grabbed onto his hair and took it out of its “topknot”, which is the hairstyle he wore under his turban.
In the lawsuit, Singh said he wears his turban as part of his religion and identity. In removing it forcefully, the officer insulted his religious beliefs.
While Singh was facing charges at the time, his lawyer has stated that it is irrelevant, based on what had happened to him while in police custody. His charges are currently not known to the public.
The lawsuit, obtained by The Province, states that Singh suffered injury to his dignity, loss of self-respect, stress, anxiety, and embarrassment. He is now seeking damages as well as a declaration that his Charter rights were breached.