A man who was punched twice in the face by a police officer after a concert in Abbotsford in November has filed a civil claim, saying he was beaten “senseless” in the incident and his charter rights were breached.
Ryan Atzenberger of Kamloops is suing the City of Abbotsford and the police officer involved, who is referred to as “John Doe Constable #1” in the notice of civil claim.
The lawsuit – which seeks aggravated, special and punitive damages – was filed Dec. 19 in B.C. Supreme Court in Kamloops.
Atzenberger, a window and door installer, says in the lawsuit that he was leaving The Offspring concert at Abbotsford Centre on Nov. 26 when he was detained by Abbotsford Police officers about “an investigation relating to another individual.”
The court documents state that the officers “threatened to arrest the plaintiff for obstruction if he did not assist them further in locating the other individual.”
“The plaintiff was not able to assist further and APD officers indicated that he was to be arrested for obstruction,” the documents state.
Atzenberger says that during the arrest, officers used “excessive force,” and he was brought to the ground.
He said he was “lying limp” on the ground and was then lifted to his feet by two officers, and his arms were “manipulated” to be placed in handcuffs.
“The plaintiff continued to cooperate and was unable to resist because APD officers had just beaten him senseless,” the documents state.
Atzenberger says he was “jerked in different directions” by the officers, and one of his arms slipped away.
“Upon the plaintiff’s arm coming loose from the John Doe Constable #1’s hand, he immediately, and gratuitously, punched the plaintiff, twice in the face, in full view of a crowd of onlookers,” the civil claim says.
Atzenberger says he again fell to the ground, and he was arrested and taken to the APD holding cell that is commonly referred to as the “drunk tank.”
He says he was not drunk and his several requests to take a breathalyzer were denied.
Atzenberger says he was also never informed of his right to speak to a lawyer nor was he provided an opportunity to speak with one.
The lawsuit says Atzenberger sustained injuries that included a concussion, bruises on his arm, back pain, loss of sleep, emotional upset, aggravation of a degenerative disc disease and post-traumatic stress.
The court documents state that he also suffered loss of income and loss of earning capacity.
Atzenberger asks that the punitive damages be “several orders of magnitude larger than they have been in previous police misconduct cases.”
“The plaintiff asks the court to award punitive damages that will actually make a difference to the actions of the APD in supervising, training and hiring its own officers,” the documents state.
No charges were laid against Atzenberger.
Video filmed by an onlooker was posted on social media after the incident. The Abbotsford Police Department issued a statement on Nov. 28, saying the matter was being investigated by its professional standards branch and that the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner was notified.
That investigation is still underway.
Meanwhile, no response has yet been filed by the defendants nor have the allegations in Atzenberger’s lawsuit been proved in court.