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Victoria teen tethered to jail cell door awarded $60K by B.C. jury

VICTORIA - A weeping Willow Kinloch hugged her mother in the courtroom moments after a jury returned a verdict Thursday that found Victoria Police officers violated the teen's rights when they restrained her in a padded police cell.


VICTORIA - A weeping Willow Kinloch hugged her mother in the courtroom moments after a jury returned a verdict Thursday that found Victoria Police officers violated the teen's rights when they restrained her in a padded police cell.

The jury at a B.C. Supreme Court civil trial awarded Kinloch $60,000 for the incident in May 2005 when Kinloch, then 15, spent four hours in handcuffs and leg restraints, leashed to the door of the cell.

"I knew at the time it wasn't OK," said Kinloch, standing outside of the courthouse with her mother and her lawyer after the verdict. "I never really thought about the money. I'm really just happy that it's gotten out there and that everybody knows what's really happening and that it's not OK, and that hopefully it's not going to happen to anyone else."

The jury found the Victoria Police officers violated Kinloch's charter right to not be arbitrarily detained and subjected her to cruel and unusual punishment.

Kinloch, now 18 and still just about 100 pounds, had been arrested for being drunk. She ended up leashed and bound in the padded cell for four hours without being offered a glass of water or the use of a telephone.

The entire episode was captured on a police jail cell video, which was used extensively as evidence throughout the weeklong trial.

The surveillance video showed the tiny teen pacing the padded cell like a caged animal, kicking and punching at the walls. Then officers are seen entering the cell and placing Kinloch, who is not struggling, in restraints.

Kinloch named two Victoria police officials, two police headquarters jail officials and the City of Victoria in the lawsuit.

The two Victoria Police officers, constables Brian Asmussen and Ryan O'Neill, both testified they placed Kinloch in restraints as a result of an altercation with the jail matron. The officers said they believed it was the right thing to do for Kinloch's protection and the protection of others.

Police testified they tied Kinloch's hands and feet behind her back and tethered her to the jail cell door after Kinloch became involved with jail cell guard Merle Edmunds when her shoe hit Edmunds on the shin.

Kinloch's lawyer, Richard Neary, said the actions were cruel and breached Kinloch's Constitutional rights. He said the video evidence shows the jury Kinloch was not being overly aggressive and out of control.

Neary said the video evidence played an important role in the trial, providing Kinloch with proof of her night in police cells and showing the police officers engaging in activities they felt were part of their everyday duties.

Victoria Police launched an internal investigation into the incident after the video was released by Kinloch's lawyer earlier this year, but the acting police chief had said the teen was kept in the cell for her own protection.

Interim Victoria Police Chief Bill Naughton said the department will review the decision in detail, and the review will include an examination of its use of restraints guidelines on members of the public.

He apologized to Kinloch and her family.

"While it was always our intention to keep Ms. Kinloch safe, we regret the distress that this has caused Ms. Kinloch and her family," Naughton said.

He said the jury's decision reflects the attitudes of the community, "and we're going to respect that decision."

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association also filed a complaint to the B.C. Police Complaints Commissioner over the incident.

 
 
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