POLITICS

Settlement reached in violent arrest at Western University that was posted online

10/07/2014 07:33 EDT | Updated 12/07/2014 05:59 EST
LONDON, Ont. - The lawyer for a man whose violent arrest at Western University in London, Ont., was caught on video says a settlement has been reached in an excessive-force lawsuit against the school.

Footage of the 2009 incident posted to YouTube shows then-student Irnes Zeljkovic (EER'-ness ZELCH'-ko-vitch) being pummelled by half-a-dozen campus and London police officers in the hallway of a university building.

Zeljkovic subsequently filed a civil suit against the school seeking $950,000, and his lawyer Phil Millar says a settlement was reached in the case Tuesday, 1 1/2 weeks after the trial began.

The lawyer says terms of the deal which comes nearly five years to the day of the incident will not be released.

Court heard Zeljkovic, now 27, was suffering from a major mental health episode when campus security wrestled him to the ground in front of several onlookers.

A review of the incident done for the university by a former Ontario Provincial Police commissioner recommended campus security take part in awareness training on de-escalation skills to assist in dealing with mental health issues.

Police initially said force was needed to subdue and arrest Zeljkovic, alleging that he was threatening and combative. Charges were filed against him, but later dropped.

Zeljkovic said he is pleased with the conclusion of the lawsuit.

"It definitely has been a very painful and emotional experience going through this process, especially when the actual incident happened," he said outside court.

"Now we actually went through trial and my story was heard. Now that things are resolved, my name's cleared and I'm real happy about that."

His lawyer said the video footage, which has been viewed more than 400,000 times online, was vital for the case.

"Whenever you're alleging excessive use of force it's a very difficult venture to begin with, so video can be of assistance because you can't really dispute what's on the video. At least it gives you something to anchor your claim to," Millar said.

"This video going viral raised awareness, I think, of mental health issues and what appropriate use of force levels are."

(CJBK, AM980, Blackburnnews.com, The Canadian Press)