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Elderly Black couple suing Durham police alleging wrongful arrest, assault

GINELLA MASSA AND NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, Jun 16th, 2020

A pair of seniors from the Durham region are taking legal action after an incident outside an Ajax hospital saw the two tackled to the ground by police and hospital staff.

The lawyer for Livingston and Pamelia Jeffers released a video on Monday of an incident from 2018.

Pamelia had been brought to Lakeridge Ajax Hospital on October 30 because she said she was feeling unwell. After several hours, she asked a doctor if she could return the next day.

“The doctor told them to leave, so they leave, and we believe the nurse didn’t know this and started following them,” said Faisal Kutty, the family’s lawyer on Monday.

CCTV video shows the Black couple exiting the hospital with a suitcase in tow and a blonde nurse walking behind them. When they reach the sidewalk, Durham Regional Police officers approach and attempt to restrain the two seniors.

Witness Corey Rainford said he captured the incident on video on his smartphone. In that video, a woman can be heard telling him he is not allowed to record.

“I see them get taken down and the older gentleman was getting beat up by police, and the lady was getting beat up by the nurses,” said Rainford.

Rainford said he managed to send the video to the couple’s grandson, Tre Jeffers, who arrived moments after the incident.  He said police told him to delete it.

“Imagine taking your elderly grandparents to a hospital because your grandmother wasn’t feeling well, and coming back and to see your grandfather arrested in handcuffs, trauma to the head, bruising, bleeding, unconscious,” Tre said.

Livingston Jeffers, 68, was initially charged with assault and attempting to disarm a peace officer, but those charges were dropped after witnesses came forward with video.

The couple is now suing Durham Police alleging wrongful arrest and assault.

“They had not committed a crime, they did not have a weapon. They were simply trying to leave the hospital,” Kutty said.

Kutty says in 2019, he also laid a complaint with a justice of the peace who authorized assault charges against the officer involved in the Jeffers’ arrest, but the crown never proceeded with those charges.

In a statement to CityNews, Durham police said a different police service investigated the case and concluded that “allegations of wrongdoing raised by the complainants were unsubstantiated; however, the officers were deemed to have failed to read the complainant his charter rights upon arrest.”

The hospital said in a statement it cannot speak about individual patient experiences for privacy reasons, adding, “Lakeridge Health is committed to working with the communities we serve to promote a just and equitable environment for all members of our diverse community, including those who are most vulnerable.”

None of the allegations from the Jeffers family have been proven in court.

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