The video of Dr Simona Tibu's arrest and assault has recently been released (cbc-video), after a protracted legal battle. What is debatable is to what extent is this a case of police brutality / use of unnecessary and excessive force, or white female entitlement.
To start where we left off, Dr Simona Tibu was arrested and charged with resisting arrest after being stopped for speeding. She mounted a strong defense (cbc-camrose) and the dashcam video (cbc-video) was released yesterday by the Alberta police (cbc-dashcam). I published a link to a petition started in Toronto in the previous article, here I found one started in Alberta (care2-petition) and even a public intervention in her favour by Anonymous (AnonymousEdmonton).
LE: Dr Simona Tibu was found guilty as charged on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. The police officer compared her to a feral cat in his testimony, saying he tried to bite him and grab his genitals (cbc-guilty). A sentencing hearing will be held on June 17.
So far, so good. One would think that this is an obvious case of police brutality, yet the reddit comments (reddit-dashcam) seem to suggest that there are at least some members of the public who don’t see it that way.
- Unless she was assaulted off camera, this isn't noteworthy. Looks like an entitled crybaby who can't deal with a traffic ticket. (fudge_friend 16points)
- She would have gotten off with a ticket had she not resisted arrest. I hope she is convicted and loses her license. The cop was protecting himself and her from being a moron and running into traffic. He had no idea if she had weapon on her or in the vehicle. She brought ALL of this on herself. (specificbarista 9 points)
- One of my favourite parts is when she tries to go back into the vehicle after she was forcefully removed to grab what I assume to be her phone. How anyone would think that is a good idea is beyond my comprehension. If I was in the sheriffs position I don't know what I would do at that point. There is no way to know if she has weapons in her car or not. She very well could have been tasered or shot for that little maneuver. (j_roe 4points)
- I'm usually the first person to talk smack about the cops but in this video she's clearly resisting arrest. If this was the USA she would have been beaten or shot (keepcalmdude 8 points)
- I have to admit, I went into this thread thinking this would be another case of police brutality. Clearly she's resisting arrest. Even if she's in the right, she should have cooperated, and things could have been sorted out later. It was ultimately the choices that she made that escalated the situation. (ziggster 4points)
- That cop actually should probably get some kind of commendation. Having participated in many compassionate restraints (i.e. where you are trying to physically restrain someone who is actively fighting you, without hurting them) it is extremely difficult, and extremely tiring. Around minutes 6-7 i bet that cop is really getting fed up and contemplating evil. Good on him for keeping his relative cool. That kind of reaction to authority (borne out by her ongoing legal position as well), the complete irrational inability to be wrong, is symptomatic of mental health issues. Hopefully she gets an assessment and some meds. (Czeris 4points)
- Audio would have been nice, and might have given us a little more context. Not sure if it was unrecorded, or unreleased. (dayycian; reply by 2enagade: I agree, audio would help clear this up for sure. She appeared to be resisting arrest but I'm sure he has been taught better suspect subduing techniques other then "Slam them into the car".)
I have already discussed police brutality in North America. In short, I believe it to be excessive and cops, who are overpaid civil servants (here in Toronto the sunshine list shows that
40% over 50% of them make more than $100000 / year (tsun-snshn, tstr-snshn) for eating doughnuts, assaulting, harassing and killing mostly innocent citizens), should not have guns for the most part, except some elite forces (a highly trained and seldom used minority). I always obey police instructions and treat policemen as people who can kill me with impunity and get away with it and suggest everybody in North America does the same. Yet that does not mean that we should accept this situation or consider guilty anybody who does not.
Unnecessary police violence and brutality has become so interwoven within the North American society matrix, that any innocent or naive imbecile who does not behave accordingly when stopped and frisked or arrested is seen by many as “having it coming”. If a policeman’s life is not in danger, as it obviously isn’t in this case, there is no justification for abusing a “suspect” just to shorten the time spent on the matter or because they (the suspect) don’t seem to realize the danger they are in for interacting with the police forces supposedly paid to serve and protect.
Here are some pertinent verbatim quotes, as reflected by CBC.
Dr Simona Tibu declared she had a panic attack.
- "I felt I was in a horror movie attack,” she told the court after the video was shown. “I was kidnapped from my car. I felt like my life was in danger.”
- “I was never brutalized this way in my entire life ... He pulled me out from a safe place – my car – to a dangerous place – the traffic. I felt my life was not safe."
The witness Jim Fredericksen said, in response to a question from the dispatcher, that the sheriff was using excessive force.
- He told the court that Tibu was screaming, “Help me, help me.”
- At the sheriff's request, Frederickson called 911 and told the dispatcher that "the officer is getting really violent with her now.”
The reason why so many people may not see the above simple facts has to do mostly with the fact that many more women than men seem to challenge police authority and resist arrest. This comes from “societal bias”: men are stronger due to elevated testosterone, henceforth we are taught that men must treat women like flowers, with TLC; meanwhile, policemen are trained not to discriminate and treat all suspects the same (this is a big deal these days) and may perceive “special treatment” for women as unfair, much like other men, who feel that what should only be a “suggestion” and a “gift” they offer has been institutionalized in family law and human rights legislation and as such has become oppressive and a mark of reverse discrimination. There are also those who feel that North American feminism has gone “too far” and is all about getting a “better deal” for women at the expense of men, when inequality issues are to be found only in parts of Asia / Africa; furthermore, according to this viewpoint, women are paid less even in the West not because of widespread discrimination but rather because when they are negotiating, the salary figure is not all that important to them as it is flexibility and other issues that are less important to men. This is a topic worth debating.
Rather than expect women to be abused by police as much as men are, my view is that police should be, for the most part, disarmed, and generally police are not to engage in violence but simply call for backup when people are resisting arrest. Violence should be the last resort when gentler methods (which means more than just reciting a slogan) have failed to produce results. There is ample evidence that disarmed police officers are more likely to survive encounters with violent or demented criminals simply because they are more prudent and more likely to follow procedure; they are also more respectful of the taxpayers whom they are supposed to serve and protect and who are paying their (too high) salaries. Innocent citizens are also more likely to survive encounters with police. Today, you are more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a criminal.
LE: Though I believe the above last statement to be true, I did not find its source and do not have the time to research it. What I was able to find is that as an US American, you are more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist (cato-8x). Though they make 0.9% of the US population, Native Americans form 1.9% of those killed by police (cnn-moya) US cops killed about as many people in the past decade as Americans killed in Iraq (ftp-iraq). A further look at stats reveal that even among Americans who died in the war, most died from suicide rather than direct combat and far more Americans die in car crashes, from heart disease, cancer, and suicide (gs-stats).
For these changes to be effected we need to ask ourselves whether police role is to punish those people we don’t like and we do not consider “one of us” (currently, visible minorities and poor people for the most part), even at the risk of us, ourselves, becoming victims, or are we OK to treat taxpayers as adults who don’t need to be beaten just because we were in our childhood and now want to close the cycle of abuse, rather than facing and conquering our demons.
It is opportune to consider how hard had CBC to work to be able to share the video with us (as reported by Janice Johnston – cbc-johnston), since despite Supreme Court rulings and Chief Justice speeches, Canadian judges still have “gag order reflexes” and place the non-existent or at best vaguely defined “integrity of the justice system” above the far more important principle of court openness.
- On day one, Tibu's lawyer asked the judge to stay the charges. So the case entered what's called a voir dire: a trial within a trial.
- Provincial court judge Gordon Yake is reviewing the evidence and he'll decide if Tibu should still be tried on those counts.
- The key piece of evidence is a videotape recorded by the sheriff's dashboard camera.
- I asked Judge Yake if he would release the exhibit to CBC News. At the end of day one, he had this response: "Now from my perspective, we are in the middle of a voir dire. That exhibit, as you have seen, is a key piece of evidence in that voir dire. So at this point in time I am not prepared to release that exhibit, we are using it, but I expect that at the conclusion of the voir dire, if that DVD becomes an exhibit in the trial proper, it would then be releasable upon your application."
- I consulted with CBC's lawyer after that first ruling. The next day we submitted a letter to the judge, citing the open court principle and Supreme Court rulings on matters like this. That letter was presented to Judge Yake on the second day of the voir dire.
- At the end of the day, I tried once again to get access to the videotape. Here is a portion of the transcript: "I will not tolerate further interruptions from anybody in this courtroom ... Now, I appreciate the fact that you have a desire to have an exhibit released to the CBC. I have ruled on that. If you wish to bring, or the CBC wishes to bring an application to this court ... a formal application must be filed on notice to the court. I suggest that legal counsel be retained to act for the CBC. I will not tolerate further delay of this proceeding with ad hoc interruptions for ad hoc applications. Now I hope that is clear."
- The voir dire will resume next week in Camrose. I did not want to wait that long to see if CBC could share that videotape. Our only option was to go to a higher court and appeal Judge Yake's ruling. A Court of Queen's Bench justice heard the case in December. She issued a decision in our favour, ruling the judge erred in requiring CBC to file an application and retain legal counsel, and failed to consider the binding authority of the Supreme Court in dealing with the open court principle. Justice Doreen Sulyma directed the provincial court to provide a copy of the videotape to CBC.
LE: In essence, Justice Yake is acting much like the police officer: he is sacrificing his duty to serve the public on the altar of expediency, narcissism and self-entitlement.
On Reddit, one commenter points to Dr Tibu’s ratings (ratemd-st) which are less than 50%. Most significantly, her first four ratings are all in the month of August 2013, when the abuse took place; the first two are on average less than 2/5, while the next two, on the 15th and 16th respectively, are 5/5. The lowest one even accuses her of being “overly dramatic” and “rude”. Most of the subsequent comments (after the incident was aired in the press) are generally negative, but this may well be because of her being perceived as a drama queen and potential patients going to see her being prejudiced. On the other hand, one must wonder why would a patient with a negative bias go to see her? Could it be that some people might think that she is now vulnerable and likely to settle if sued for malpractice?
LE: Don't forget that online reviews are seldom reliable; even Samsung was fined in 2013 for faking them - http://redd.it/1p4lzb
I can comment on the question of whether Romanian dentists are generally good or bad. I happen to have met another Albertan dentist, long ago, before she became a dentist in Canada: Dr Alexandra Bendic has a 5/5 rating and seems to be doing fine. Here in Toronto, I had used the services of Dr Andrei Vasilian from Avalon Dentistry, who has a solid 5/5. Another Romanian dentist, Dr Tatiana Mihaescu, has 4.5/5, with a review back in 2010 stating “A bit hurried and talked too much. I'm not sure she's a doctor.” I also have a not-so-flattering story involving Dr Elizabeth (Betty) Munteanu (website).
As far as I know, there are numerous Romanian dentists working in Canada, some trained in Romania, some trained in Canada, because it’s easier to practice as a Dentist (less time spent in school than doctors), it’s an above average income and it’s a job that comes with a lot of freedom and "self-mastery".
Do you think that Dr Tibu is right to accuse the policeman of unnecessary force / brutality? Should she be cleared of wrongdoing and/or he be reprimanded?
Sources / More info: cbc-video, AnonymousEdmonton, care2-petition, cbc-camrose, cbc-dashcam, reddit-dashcam, ratemd-st, ratemd-ab, ratemd-tm, ratemd-av, ratemd-em, cbc-johnston, hufpo, tstr-snshn, tsun-snshn, cato-8x, cnn-moya, ftp-iraq, gs-stats, cbc-guilty
On the subject of court openness, it is perhaps worth remembering how hard was for this principle to become more established in Canadian jurisprudence (the tangential subject of our weird defamation legal regime was previously discussed under 2).
- 2007. Greg James Levine writes about City of London v. RSJ Holdings Inc. which he considers a critical statement in which the Supreme Court of Canada reaffirmed the importance of openness in the decision making of local government.
- 2012-01-31, Beverley McLachlin @ CarletonU remarks. “Despite occasional discomfort, a free press and an independent judiciary must work together to foster a society committed to the rule of law. The rule of law cannot exist without open justice and deep public confidence in the judiciary and the administration of justice. And the media is essential to building and maintaining that public confidence.”
- 2012-09-28, Molly Reynolds – Supreme Court on Open Courts. ..ruling in A.B. v. Bragg Communications Inc., released this week, weighed the rights of victims to seek legal remedies anonymously against the open court principle. The ruling reaffirms existing jurisprudence that holds that while the open court principle is an important component of freedom of expression in a democratic society, the right of the public (including the media) to access court proceedings is not absolute. In this decision, the Court held that a child victim of cyber-bullying could anonymously seek a court order requiring an Internet service provider to disclose the identity of the creator of allegedly defamatory material on the Internet. The Court ruled that the minimal harm to the open court principle that would result from prohibiting disclosure of the plaintiff’s identity was outweighed by the serious harm that disclosure would cause to the plaintiff and the administration of justice from failing to protect the vulnerable – in this case a child victimized by bullying. The Court did, however, decline to order a publication ban on non-identifying content on the allegedly defamatory webpage, on the basis that no harm to the child would result from this disclosure.
- 2014-04-28, Privacy vs Openness in Ontario (PDF). “Three different Courts have now sided with my office on this issue, which is a good indicator that we were on the right side of this matter,” said Dr. Cavoukian. “It is truly unfortunate how many years and resources have been wasted on this pursuit.”
- 2014-05-14, blow to gov openness (PDF). The case arose when John Doe, an anonymous requester, asked for information about amendments to Ontario’s Corporate Tax Act and, in particular, the decision to have the amendments apply retroactively. A number of the records requested were refused on the basis that they would reveal “advice or recommendations of a public servant”. Under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the head of a government institution may refuse to disclose records that fall into this category. Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner ordered that the records should be disclosed and the matter was appealed through the courts (decision).
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