Punishment is unlikely
in SkyTrain assault case

Kari Shannon, Globe and Mail, May 4, 2006


Two transit police officers involved in an incident at a downtown Vancouver SkyTrain station that resulted in a schoolteacher being hit with a flashlight are unlikely to face any disciplinary sanction.

The newly created Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority Police Service says it can do nothing because the assault on Christy Logeman took place when the officers were TransLink special constables.

After a two-week B.C. Supreme Court trial, a civil jury ruled in March that Ms. Logeman was “wrongly assaulted” by Walter Rossa in 2002, and that he struck her with his flashlight. Ms. Logeman, 30, suffered a “blowout fracture” of a bone below her left eye.

The jury awarded her $52,000 in damages. Madam Justice Janet Sinclair Prowse reduced that total last week to just under $40,000 because the jury found that Ms. Logeman was 35-per-cent responsible for the events that led up to her assault.

The B.C. Supreme Court judge declined to reduce the damages by 35 per cent as TransLink had requested, and in written reasons released this week, she criticized Mr. Rossa and his colleague Ken Dorby.

The judge said both constables lied under oath during the trial about the striking of Ms. Logeman. “The blatant untruthfulness of both of these defendants on this pivotal issue has had an adverse effect on both the nature and the conduct of this litigation,” Judge Sinclair Prowse wrote.

“The evidence was undisputed that Mr. Rossa was completely indifferent to the injury that he caused the plaintiff.”

While Mr. Dorby was not found to have participated in the assault, the judge said his testimony was “evasive and inconsistent” and an attempt to protect Mr. Rossa.

Mr. Dorby is now a constable and Mr. Rossa a sergeant with the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority Police Service. Amendments to the Police Act came into effect in December that give transit officers full police powers and allow them to be armed.

The officers are TransLink employees, but a company spokesman said any disciplinary action is the responsibility of the police service. “We can’t discipline them under what they used to be,” explained Inspector Dan Dureau of the transit police force.

“They don’t seem to take the findings of the court very seriously,” said Michael Mines, who was co-counsel for Ms. Logeman. “The jury deliberated carefully and we now have the reasons for judgment of Madam Justice Sinclair Prowse and the response seems to be, yeah, so what,” said Mr. Mines. “There has never even been an apology.”

Unlike every other police service in the country, the transit authority has an oversight board made up primarily of police officers. There are four officers, a TransLink executive and one civilian member on the board. Mr. Mines said he was surprised to learn that there is not civilian oversight of the transit police.

The ministry of the Solicitor-General did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.

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