Lawsuit alleges Winnipeg police officer racially profiled Black man and broke his eye socket

A Black man is suing a Winnipeg police officer and the city, alleging he was racially profiled by the officer who used excessive force for no legal reason while he was parked outside of a friend’s house.

Fabian Lincoln Junior Ross was driving a rented car on July 14 of that year when he parked behind a friend’s house in the alley connecting Brazier and Roch streets, between Johnson and Chalmers avenues, according to a statement of claim filed in Manitoba’s Court of Queen’s Bench of June 20, 2022.

An officer, identified as Jeffrey Rotinsky in the court document, pulled up beside Ross in an unmarked police SUV and asked him what he was doing and where he was going, to which Ross responded that he was waiting for his friend and heading to Winnipeg’s Transcona neighbourhood.

At that point, Rotinsky asked Ross to put his hands where the officer could see them, and Ross complied. The officer got out of his vehicle and opened Ross’s door, pulling him from the vehicle, the statement of claim alleges.

Rotinsky allegedly ordered the man to get on the ground and when Ross said “no,” the officer punched him in the side of his head, and then two more times in the back of his head and neck, the court document says.

A statement of defence hasn’t been filed as of Tuesday, and none of the allegations have been proven in court.

Before the punch, the officer didn’t advise Ross he was under arrest, charge him with any criminal offences or engage him in any dialogue concerning allegations against him, the statement of claim says.

When Ross fell to the ground, the officer cuffed him, called for police assistance and arrested him for resisting a peace officer.

Ross was released from custody about four hours later. His lawyer, Martin Pollock, advised him not to speak to media while the lawsuit is before the court.

Ross is seeking damages for the injuries he says he sustained, including a broken eye socket and nerve damage, as well as damages for the alleged violations of his charter rights.

The suit alleges Rotinsky “acted in a high-handed, arrogant and malicious manner” by racially profiling Ross, using excessive physical force without any justification and falsely charging him with assaulting a police officer when he wasn’t actively resisting or threatening Rotinsky.

In the days after his arrest, Ross sought medical attention in Selkirk where he had a CT scan and was referred to a plastic surgeon. Doctors determined his broken orbital bone would heal without surgery.

CBC News has asked Winnipeg Police Service for a comment, and for an update on Rotinsky’s employment status, but has not yet received a response.