MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – Peel Region’s police chief and others deny allegations in lawsuit launched by a Mississauga, Ont., woman who was injured by a stray bullet during an incident in which a man was fatally shot by police in 2015.
In a lawsuit filed last December, Suzan Zreik alleges assault and battery, negligence causing bodily harm, gross negligence and abuse of process and misfeasance in public office.
The statement of claim alleges Peel Regional Police Chief Jennifer Evans failed to ensure officers were properly trained and that she knowingly withheld the extent of Zreik’s injuries from the police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit.
Zreik is suing Evans, the police services board and others for damages, none of which have been proven in court.
In a statement of defence filed with the court, Evans says she “specifically denies interfering with or influencing the SIU investigation of the incident by withholding or providing misleading information about the nature of (Zreik’s) injuries.”
The SIU says Zreik was in her home when officers fired multiple shots, killing a 22-year-old man on March 20, 2015, and she was taken to hospital for treatment of a gunshot wound.
The claim says officers following up on a report of threats being made attempted to lure a woman from another home to arrest her.
It says the woman’s son came out of the home and was pepper-sprayed by officers, after which the mother came out brandishing a saucepan.
As the officers were wrestling with the woman, the son came running back yelling and was met with a “hail” of 19 bullets, 11 of which struck him, the claim states.
Another struck one of the officers – causing minor bruising – while most of the other rounds struck the walls and door jams of units in the complex, the claim says.
Zreik – who was in her kitchen – was struck in the back by a bullet that smashed through her front window, the claim states.
It also alleges Zreik was denied access to her family while in hospital and one officer refused to allow her father “to visit his gravely wounded daughter as she lay suffering in bed with a police bullet in her back.”
The defendants “deny that they refused to allow the plaintiff’s mother and father to ride in the ambulance or go to hospital or pick her up upon discharge,” the statement of defence says.
“At no point was the defendant ever confined or denied access to family members,” it states, adding that Zreik’s “sister and other family members were with her at the hospital.”
Zreik was discharged from hospital early the next day after doctors said they could not immediately remove the bullet and advised her to go to a Toronto hospital to have it removed, the claim says.
Zreik – who was in the Police Foundations course at Humber College – also claims that Evans visited her in hospital, told to call her if she needed anything and that “her future career in policing was all but guaranteed.”
The statement of defence denies Zreik was “given any assurance of assistance in her career in law enforcement,” saying Evans had a “brief conversation” with her in the emergency room “for the sole purpose of checking on her well-being.”
The bullet was removed from Zreik’s back on April 15, 2015, but the claim says she currently walks with a cane due to the “disabling effects” of her injuries and has been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.