An Ontario taxi driver has filed a $1-million lawsuit accusing police of negligence for failing to stop Aaron Driver, a supporter of the so-called Islamic State, before he detonated a bomb in the back seat of his cab.
The statement of claim filed in Ontario Superior Court said police had ample opportunity to intervene before Driver got into Terry Duffield’s taxi and set off an explosive device two years ago.
A copy of the suit obtained by Global News names the Attorney General of Canada, the Ontario government, Strathroy-Caradoc Police Service and London Police Service as defendants.
“The defendants were negligent in the planning, preparation, and execution of the apprehension of Driver, and failed to properly supervise the operation to reduce the risk to innocent third parties” reads the 12-page statement of claim.
Duffield’s back absorbed the impact of the blast and his arms were cut by shrapnel and debris, it says. He also suffers from post-traumatic stress, according to the claim.
“Terry is unable to work since the bomb explosion and shooting. His daily living has been dramatically impacted by the events. Constant physical pain, depression, and anxiety have prevented Terry from returning to work.”
The allegations have not been proven in court. The RCMP, London police and Strathroy police all said they would not comment because the matter was before the courts.
“The bottom line on this is that it never should have happened, that a citizen be put in harm’s way the way that Terry was,” Duffield’s lawyer, Kevin Egan, told Global News.
Driver was well-known to police as an ISIS supporter. Although the RCMP had arrested him, he was not charged. Police instead imposed a terrorism peace bond that was meant to restrict his behavior.
But on July 31, 2016, Driver’s neighbor complained to Strathroy police “about suspicious sounds of explosions coming from Driver’s home,” the statement of claim alleged.
“Police did no, or insufficient, follow up or investigation as a result of the complaint. In the next 10 days, Driver completed the manufacture of a home-made bomb,” it said.
WATCH: Taxi driver who picked up Aaron Driver talks about ordeal (Aug 2016)
On the morning of Aug. 10, U.S. authorities notified the RCMP they had detected a so-called martyrdom video in which a Canadian man said he was about to conduct an attack.
The RCMP identified the man in the video as Driver and a tactical team surrounded his house in Strathroy.
Police notified the Toronto Transit Commission, VIA Rail “and other transportation entities as far away as Vancouver” of the threat, the suit alleged, but they did not warn Leo’s Taxi, which was “the local and habitual means of transport for Aaron Driver.”
At 3:45 p.m., Driver called for a cab to take him to Citi Plaza in London. The claim alleges that despite the police presence, Duffield was not stopped from pulling into Driver’s driveway. Driver then came out of the house and got into the back seat of the cab.
Police blocked the cab from leaving, the claims alleges.
“I think they are here to talk to you,” Duffield told Driver. Police told Driver to get out of the vehicle but he instead detonated an explosive device.
“The vehicle was rocked with the detonation and immediately filled with smoke and debris from the explosion. As Terry had leaned over for his cigarettes, his head and upper body temporarily was protected from the full force of the bomb blast by the front bench seat of the taxicab.”
Police opened fire on Driver and Duffield got out of the cab.
“Terry then heard an officer shout ‘He’s still twitching.’ Almost immediately thereafter, the defendant authorities fired multiple more gunshots from their tactical weapons,” the suit alleges.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said in a recent speech that Driver had intended to attack Toronto’s Union Station, but the RCMP later clarified that investigators “cannot establish without a doubt the intended target, but Union Station was among other potential sites.”
The incident remains under investigation.
“Although the majority of the investigation is concluded, certain components are currently being finalized. We are therefore not in a position to provide further information at this time,” said Annie Delisle, an RCMP spokeswoman.
The Ontario coroner’s office said it would not hold an inquest into Driver’s killing.
“It does not fit the criteria of a mandatory inquest and it was not believed that the investigation identified circumstances that lend themselves to jury recommendations aimed at systemic safety issues,” said Julia Noonan-Savage, a spokeswoman for the Office of the Chief Coroner.
Global News reported last summer that the RCMP was trying to reconstruct Driver’s electronic devices, which were damaged in the bombing. A joint investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police and Strathroy-Caradoc Police Service concluded the police shooting was justified. An independent review by the Crown upheld the finding.