Local family suing West Grey Police Services Board, two officers

A father and son, and five other family members, are suing the West Grey Police Services Board and two of its officers after a police encounter two summers ago in Chesley left one of the men with what they say were life-threatening injuries.

Author of the article: Scott Dunn
Published Jan 18, 2022  •  Last updated Jan 18, 2022  •  5 minute read


David and Casey Hillier were each charged on June 6, 2020 with assault police and assault with intent to resist arrest. The elder Hillier, David, was also charged with attempting to disarm a police officer.

In a news release announcing the lawsuit, Davin Charney noted all criminal charges were dismissed against the Hilliers on Dec. 14 in Walkerton. Once that happened, the civil suit was filed.

The officers are identified in the claim as Const. Robert Shering and Const. Mitchell Roulston.

In addition to the civil suit, Casey Hillier has filed a police complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director against Roulston but not Shering because he has retired, the complaint says. That office declined to comment, citing confidentiality provisions of the Police Services Act.

David Hillier, 69, of Hanover, spent two months in hospital after suffering eight fractured ribs, a broken nose, a collapsed lung and bruising around his right eye, his back, legs and forearms, according to a statement of claim.

He suffers from cognitive impairments and is no longer outgoing and social, as he used to be, the claim filed on behalf of the Hilliers near the end of December says.

No statements of defence had been filed as of Tuesday. The allegations in the suit have not been tested in court.

Casey Hillier, 44, of Chesley, had head bleeding and scrapes and bruising on his legs, arms and back, the claim says. The claim alleges psychological injuries and a loss of reputation for both men.

The Hilliers are seeking compensation for what their statement of claim alleges was false arrest and imprisonment, assault, a negligent investigation, intentional infliction of mental suffering, malicious prosecution, misfeasance in public office and malicious breach of public duty.

Nervous shock is among claims for which five others in the Hillier family are seeking damages, three of whom witnessed the encounter.

The claim was filed in the Superior Court of Justice in Kitchener. It was served on the police board earlier this month, which by custom also receives it for the officers, Charney said.

Doug Townsend, chair of the West Grey Police Services Board, declined to comment “due to the pending legal action.”

West Grey Police Chief Rob Martin said one officer named in the claim has retired and moved out of the province. The other remains with the service.

Martin forwarded The Sun Times’ request for comment to his officer, who so far has not responded. Efforts to reach the other officer, including through the police association, have not been successful.

The statement of claim says police were called to Casey and Cheryl Hillier’s home in Chesley after a dispute among family members. They had been host to a gathering.

Const. Robert Shering arrived first and found Cheryl “had significant injuries consistent with being assaulted.”

Shering didn’t help her “at all” but instead “was rude and abusive and he berated Cheryl” and “was escalating the situation” and so was asked to leave, which he did, the claim alleges.

Shering drove one of Casey and Cheryl Hillier’s children to her home in Chesley, leaving at 12:21 a.m. Before they left, he told Const. Mitchell Roulston, who arrived separately, that police were not welcome, the statement of claim says.

Roulston stayed and “was polite and cordial.” He “did not investigate any assault, but he did have a long discussion with Cheryl.”

Shering returned and sat in his police car, where David and Casey Hillier went to speak to him, the claim says, which alleged Shering was “rude and flippant” and told them he didn’t have to talk to them.

“He rolled up his window, played loud music on his radio, and pretended to dance. He withdrew and displayed his police issued pistol. His behaviour was mocking and insulting. He was told again to leave, but he refused,” the claim says.

This upset Casey Hillier, who “knocked on the car window and expressed his frustration.” Shering “lost his temper,” got out and “attacked” him when his back as turned, the claim says.

Shering Tasered and “struck Casey with a baton more than 20 times. Cst. Shering’s use of force was shocking, outrageous, entirely unnecessary and without lawful justification,” the claim alleges.

When David Hillier tried to intervene, Shering “unleashed a savage beating” on him. Shering Tasered the elder Hillier, punched his face “multiple times,” and struck him with a baton “more than 20 times, all over his body,” the claim alleges.

The claim alleges Const. Roulston “came out of the residence and participated in this unlawful attack on David and Casey.”

The claim alleges Roulston struck David Hillier with his baton “multiple times” and “used his baton as a pain compliance tool, to pry at Casey’s arm and get Casey into handcuffs, and he dragged Casey across the gravel driveway when Casey was face down and handcuffed with his hands behind his back.”

The suit alleges Roulston saw Shering strike the Hilliers repeatedly “but he failed to stop what he knew was an unlawful use of force.”

While driving to the police station, “an unknown police officer discarded David’s wallet at the side of the road with all of its contents,” according to the claim.

The suit alleges Shering and Roulston “plotted to conceal their unlawful conduct,” and calls their actions a “coverup” for agreeing to “falsely claim that the altercation with David and Casey started after Casey pushed Cst. Roulston.”

The suit also alleges the officers “concealed and failed to document the force used by police during the arrests.”

The suit alleges Roulston “was deliberately deceitful” to the Special Investigations Unit, particularly that he did not see Shering strike either Hillier with a baton.

The suit said the Hilliers’ criminal charges were withdrawn at the request of the Crown, after cross-examination of Roulston on the second day of what was to be a seven-day trial, when “it became apparent that the police version of events was not credible or reliable, and not supported by objective evidence.”

Charney’s news release, which announced the criminal charges were dropped against his clients, noted the Special Investigations Unit didn’t charge the officers involved.

That independent police oversight agency cleared the subject officer of the complaint. But it noted there were conflicts in the evidence to determine the lawfulness of the complainant’s arrest.

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