Man Violently Arrested at Toronto YMCA is Sueing Police and YMCA (Video)

james bishop toronto arrestOn January 11, 2011, a 42-year-old man named James Bishop was arrested by the Toronto Police while playing basketball at the YMCA. During the arrest, while three officers were trying to handcuff Bishop, a fourth delivered six baton blows and three elbow jabs to the man’s body, and it was all clearly visible on the surveillance video. Apparently the same officer who dealt the baton and elbow blows also tried pepper spray.

Oh, and during or shortly after the arrest, Bishop suffered a mild heart-attack.

Now Mr. Bishop and his family are suing eight police officers, the Toronto Police Services Board, and the YMCA for $2.3 million in damages.

Here’s the video of the arrest:

Obviously, the whole situation has sparked a big debate, and, thanks to the powers of the internet, lots of people have voiced strong, well-informed opinions on either side.

Those taking the side of James Bishop cite the fact that the cause for arrest was hardly some violent criminal action. In December of 2010, the YMCA suspended Bishop’s membership when they determined that he was involved in a wager on a pickup basketball game at the facility—which is not allowed. Bishop thought he should have been given the chance to state his case, and refused to accept the decision. Thus, he continued to show up at the YMCA to play basketball with his then-11-year-old son. So when the police showed up to arrest him that day in January of 2011, it was simply for trespassing. And people are wondering why so much force was needed for such a simple offense.

However, those taking the side of the YMCA and the police like to point out that, by his own admission, Bishop was “belligerent” after being told that his membership at the YMCA had been suspended. Thus, the employees there felt intimidated by him and called the police when he continued to show up.

The police feel they also had a right to feel intimidated by Bishop, given that he had numerous run-ins with the police, including a prior arrest and conviction for cocaine trafficking. In his police file, Bishop was flagged as an “EDP”—an “emotionally disturbed person”—who is very “anti-police” and should not be approached by less than two officers. And, again, Bishop himself admits that he is a “boisterous” person who doesn’t hesitate to give police attitude.

Anyway, this whole thing is sure to spark even more debate as the story spreads.

If you want, you can read the whole story and get the rest of the details over at the Toronto Star. But you don’t have to inform yourself before weighing in—this is a democracy, and you’re entitled to your ill-informed opinion.

So what do you think?

Hat Tip – [Reader Ron Canada via Toronto Star]

Tags: Arrested, Arrests, controversy, lawsuit, police brutality, Police Officer, YMCA,