A gun collector who was arrested outside his east-end apartment during a midnight raid has launched a $6.5-million lawsuit against the Toronto police, his former landlords and a tipster.
Peter Sedge, 59, said he was removed from his Beaches home at gunpoint wearing only his underwear during the May, 2008, seizure of about 120 legally collected firearms.
“I was scared because as soon as I opened the door, they were all screaming at me,” he told The Globe and Mail. “I could see guns pointed at me. . . . I totally scrambled at this point.”
The raid came hours after police got a tip about a cache of firearms and ammunition from a man who had viewed the property with his father – a prospective buyer – and Mr. Sedge’s landlord, Court documents say.
In August, 2008, the property was sold to a company owned by the man’s family.
The raid, and charges that were later dropped, were part of a negligent investigation that caused him humiliation and mental anguish, Mr. Sedge alleges in his statement of claim. His construction business, PS Fabricating Ltd., also suffered, he says.
Mr. Sedge’s lawyer, Arkadi Bouchelev, called the arrest “completely unnecessary” because his client was licensed and had no criminal record. Ontario’s chief firearms officer, who is in charge of licensing, could have been called in to inspect the site or confirm Mr. Sedge’s licence and registration, Mr. Bouchelev said.
“I think there’s a lot of public interest in making sure that things like this do not happen,” he said. The legal action is in the discovery process, which Mr. Bouchelev said he couldn’t comment on, and it’s unknown when it could go to trial or be settled.
The 14 firearms charges were dropped about 10 months after the raid.
Mr. Sedge is seeking $3-million from the police for negligence, negligent investigation, false arrest, false imprisonment, unlawful search and seizure, breach of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and aggravated and punitive damages.
Police denied the allegations and said in a statement of defence filed after the lawsuit last year that they arrested Mr. Sedge for officer and public safety.
“Our position is that the officers acted in a reasonable fashion, in good faith and in compliance with their duties,” Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash said.
The lawsuit names the Toronto Police Services Board and 19 police officers from 55 Division and the Guns and Gangs task force. The statement of defence says only 16 of those named are officers.
Acting chair of the board, Michael Thompson, declined to comment.
The officers had reasonable and probable grounds to lay charges against Mr. Sedge, and a Crown attorney later decided to proceed with them, Mr. Pugash said. He added that police also deny claims that Mr. Sedge’s basement apartment was searched before a proper warrant was obtained.
Police received the tip from Brandon Tataryn, according to their statement of defence, who had been conducting an inspection with Mr. Sedge’s landlord. Mr. Tataryn showed police photos and said he “saw a number of rifles and a great quantity of ammunition” and advised “that the apartment was strewn with garbage and that human feces was smeared on the walls.”
Mr. Sedge and his lawyer said the apartment was messy, but there were no feces.
Mr. Sedge is also suing Mr. Tataryn and his father, Mark, and his former landlords, who he said told him about the inspection but not that anyone else would be there. He is seeking $3-million from the Tataryns and his former landlords for malicious prosecution, defamation, conspiracy, trespass, trespass to goods and aggravated and punitive damages.
Brandon Tataryn declined to comment.
Mr. Sedge is also claiming $500,000 for economic losses, which Mr. Bouchelev said could apply to one or all of the defendants.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
The former landlords, James and David Cranton, have filed a statement of defence and deny the claims, including giving Mr. Sedge improper notice about the inspection or contacting the police. Their lawyer, Fiona Brown, declined to comment.
The Crantons sold the property at the corner of Queen Street East and Kingswood Road in August, 2008, to a numbered company belonging to the Tataryn family, according to property records. Mr. Bouchelev said it’s the same property his client lived in for more than a decade.
Meanwhile, Mr. Sedge said his life hasn’t returned to normal. Before moving to Whitby, he was left wondering what his neighbours thought of him.
“When you go out on the street, you know everybody that’s sitting on their porches looking at you were all out there that night,” he said.
Mr. Sedge said he began collecting firearms in 2007 after he became licensed for restricted and non-restricted firearms. Antique firearms also caught his eye. Later, he joined gun and revolver clubs, he said.
Former national target shooter and friend of Mr. Sedge, James Spratley, said he’s angry because Mr. Sedge was pursuing his hobby legally.
“It’s maybe a hot-button issue and certain people might not like it,” Mr. Spratley said of gun ownership. “But the bottom line is it’s a Canadian federal law.”
The police defendants that the force confirmed as officers in its statement of defence are Terrence Wray, Dennis Doyle, Stephen Gibbons, Stephen McGran, Jeffrey MacDuff, Michael Ramsay, Jason McIntyre, Lesley Zimmer, Bryan Smith, Neil Thornton, Paul Scudds, Roderick MacLean, Ron Clifford, Darryl Linquist, Michael Press and Oliver Febbo.