Kelowna RCMP Const. Steve Conlon walks away from the Kelowna courthouse last Friday with the media in hot pursuit after being found guilty of assault for punching a pregnant woman during an investigation.

Cop convicted on assault charge will now face a civil lawsuit

The Kelowna RCMP officer found guilty of assault Friday for punching a pregnant woman in the face is also facing a lawsuit from his victim.

The Kelowna RCMP officer found guilty of assault Friday for punching a pregnant woman in the face is also facing a lawsuit from his victim.

In a recently filed notice of civil claim, Crystal Young alleged Const. Steve Conlon’s punch to her face two years ago—and his subsequent effort to get her to the ground—constitutes assault and battery and continues to cause her physical and psychological pain.

The suit also names the Attorney General of Canada, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General and the Queen, on behalf of the province of B.C., as defendants.

Back on Feb. 13, 2009, police burst into Young’s then-home on Thompson Road without a warrant as they sought a witness to an incident that led to an officer shooting a wanted man.

The occupants were ordered to the ground but Young, who was holding back her pit bull, said she could not get to the ground.

During Conlon’s criminal trial, it was heard that the dog bit Conlon and Conlon hit the dog. He then punched Young in the face and got her on the ground.

Despite arguing there were “exigent circumstances” to allow police to be in the home without a warrant, the judge ruled that Conlon had no legal right to be in Young’s home and that she had no legal obligation to even listen to his commands to get on the ground.

As well, he said Conlon’s claim of self-defence could only extend to the dog and that Young posed no threat to the plainclothes officer before finding Conlon guilty of the lesser included offence of assault. (He was initially charged with assault causing bodily harm).

In her civil claim, Young alleges the “negligence” of the defendants that day resulted in soft tissue injuries to her face, two black eyes, a head injury, intermittent short-term memory loss and also required her to stay in hospital overnight so doctors could observe her six-month-old fetus.

She claims she continues to get medical care and treatment for her injuries.

In her claim, she alleges the government agencies are “vicariously liable” for Conlon’s actions by failing to give adequate or sufficient training, employing him “when they knew or ought to have known (he) was not a suitable person to be put in confrontational situations,” and failing to properly supervise him.

Alternatively, she argues that the “assault and battery” was a “gross dereliction of his duty” and constitutes negligence on the part of Conlon.

The court documents also allege Conlon failed to act in accordance with RCMP protocol, failed to adequately assess the situation and restrain himself, and failed to recognize the law as it pertains to warrantless searches of a home and civil and criminal laws, as they apply to Young.

As well, the documents claim Conlon acted in a “cavalier and cowardly” manner in his dealings with Young and failed to recognize that she was a slight woman who was six months pregnant.

The claims in the civil suit have not been proven in court.

It could not be confirmed by press deadline if the court action has been served on the defendants and no statements of defence have been filed.

Meanwhile, Conlon awaits sentencing on the assault charge and his duty status—he’s currently on active duty—is being reviewed as a result of the guilty finding.

He is also subject to an internal code of conduct investigation and sometime after his sentencing a disciplinary hearing will be scheduled.

cweirda@kelownacapnews.com