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Man suing Nelson police, alleging excessive force

A Nelson resident who alleges he was the victim of excessive force in June 2021 is suing the Nelson Police Department, the City of Nelson, and two members of the police department. 

Ron Bendle, 65 at the time of the altercation, uploaded a video to Facebook following the incident that showed bruising to his face with a post that claimed Nelson Police Sgt. Nathaniel Holt was at fault for his injuries.  

In a follow up interview with Vista Radio, Bendle stated his injuries followed what should have been a routine traffic stop after he rolled through a stop sign near Central School.  

The statement of civil claim filed June 6 of this year in BC Supreme Court in Vancouver recounted the incident that allegedly caused Bendle to experience chronic physical and mental pain.  

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The claim states that on the morning of June 10, 2021 Bendle was pulled over near the intersection of Stanley and Mill streets by Cst. Lisa Schmidtke.  

As Schmidtke returned to her vehicle to prepare the traffic violation ticket, Bendle exited his vehicle to retrieve his insurance and registration papers in the trunk of his car. At this point Sgt. Nathaniel Holt positioned himself behind Bendle’s vehicle and the statement of claim says he had his firearm drawn without reasonable grounds.  

As Bendle exited his vehicle, the statement of claim states that without warning, Holt struck Bendle in the face with the butt of his firearm using excessive force.  

After being struck, Bendle fell to the ground. The civil claim states that while Bendle was on the ground, posing no threat, Holt repeatedly struck him in the face with his fist.  

Following the incident, the claim says Holt and Schmidtke arrested Bendle without lawful justification and forced him into the police vehicle, and then drove him to the Kootenay Lake Hospital where he was detained.  

Bendle was eventually released with all the charges against him dropped. 

Hammerco Lawyers LLP is representing Bendle in the civil case. An advocate for Bendle says the firm has taken the case on as a contingency.  

The claims against the accused include negligence and assault and battery, wrongful detention and intentional infliction of mental distress.  

Bendle’s legal team stated in the civil claim that as a result of the incident Bendle has continued to experience life-altering injuries, both physical and mental, that have caused detrimental effects to his quality of life, including continued chronic pain and a mental health disorder.  

Bendle is seeking punitive damages, aggravated damages, and costs of future and past health care services.  

None of the allegations in the civil claim have been tested in court and no statement of defense has been filed. 

At the Nelson Police Board meeting yesterday evening, Vista Radio asked Nelson Police Chief Constable Donovan Fisher and Mayor Janice Morrison to comment on the civil claim to which they responded that they hadn’t yet been served the legal documents, but Fisher said he was not surprised to hear about it. 

Morrison said the city had not yet received the documents either, but both declined further comment as it is a legal matter.  

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