Durham cops face $200M profiling lawsuit

By Gerald V. Paul

Prominent lawyer Munyonzwe Hamalengwa has filed another class-action lawsuit on behalf of the Black Action Defence Committee (BADC) to the tune of $200 million.

The proposed class-action lawsuit this time was filed against the Durham Regional Police Services Board, alleging that officers engaged in racial profiling.

Hamalengwa, the author of The Politics of Judicial Diversity and Transformation, said he expects hundreds of people to join the class action suits if they are certified by a judge.

“We are hearing all types of stories from Durham,” said Hamalengwa.

The suit was launched by BADC on behalf of two complainants.

Thelma Vassal, an Oshawa resident, alleges she was pulled over in 2012 by a Durham officer because he felt a BMW like the one she was driving could be “a stolen car.”

Nathaniel Ndem claims he was stopped for no reason after leaving a movie theatre last May.

Police charged Vassal after discovering she was driving with a suspended licence due to an unpaid fine, according to the document which was filed in Superior Court Dec. 29. The suit claims Ndem was illegally searched and then arrested for marijuana possession. The claims have not been tested in court.

Hamalengwa is seeking $150 million in damages from police. The plaintiffs in the deputations allege they were racially profiled by officers in what they claim is a violation of their constitutional rights.

They are also seeking $25 million in punitive and $25 million in exemplary damages.

The first landmark $200 million class action suit alleging racial profiling was filed against Toronto Police Services and its board in November 2013.

A $125 million challenge was launched by BADC against Peel Regional Police Services Board for similar allegations against its officers, also in 2013.

Gerald V. Paul
Gerald V. Paul