ALBERTA

William Berry Lawsuit: Deaf, Mute Resident Alleges 'Inhumane' Treatment At Red Deer Courthouse (VIDEO)

07/22/2013 12:36 EDT | Updated 07/22/2013 12:46 EDT

An Edmonton cancer survivor is suing the Alberta government for what he claims was inhumane and cruel treatment at a Red Deer courthouse late 2011.

In a statement of claim filed late last week in Edmonton, William Berry, a mute and partially deaf man who breathes through a tube in his neck, alleges five Alberta sheriffs used excessive force in ejecting him from a Red Deer courthouse.

He is seeking $1.5 million in damages.

In December of 2011, Berry, who lost his ability to speak after throat cancer, entered the courthouse to pay a $140 speeding ticket. He accidentally entered through an open exit door, missing the security checkpoint.

He told Global News earlier this year that it was without cause he was pulled to the ground by Sheriff Thomas Bounds.

Surveillance footage shows Bounds grabbing and dragging Berry back to the exit. During the altercation, Berry told CBC News, his breathing tube was knocked out, causing him to convulse on the floor.

"His actions nearly killed me," Berry told the CBC.

In the claim Berry says he tried to use hand gestures to explain his lack of hearing to Bounds, but before he knew it Bounds had him in a bear hug before they both fell to the ground.

Berry then alleges other sheriffs put their knees on his chest and right kidney, in an attempt to restrain him.

"As a result of the force used by the sheriffs or any of them, Berry's breathing tube became dislodged and Berry was unable to breathe," the claim states.

"There were no grounds for Berry's detention or for the use of any force on Berry."

The claim alleges Berry suffered multiple contusions, mental distress and anxiety, sustained post-traumatic stress disorder and has been unable to perform household duties. The claim alleges the behaviour was “malicious” and “inhumane.

An investigation by the Solicitor General Office's Law Enforcement and Oversight Professional Standards Unit in early 2012 found Bounds used a level of force was "unjustified" and "excessive," reports the Red Deer Advocate.

However, a chief Crown prosecutor at the time found Bounds – who no longer works for the province – would not be criminally charged.

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