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Parents of Okanagan man who died after being tasered by police file civil lawsuit


Three and a half years after they made the agonizing decision to pull their son off life support, Kevin and Kathy Donnelly have filed a civil lawsuit hoping to finally get answers about his death.

38-year-old Clayton Donnelly was admitted to Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops in late October 2019, after going into cardiac arrest. His parents rushed to his side, but couldn’t get any information about what had happened to their son.

“They didn’t tell us, we sort of guessed because there was a big red mark on his neck. So my other son said, ‘oh, it looks like he’s been tasered,’” said Clayton’s mother, Kathy Donnelly.

They learned through a local media report that a man had led RCMP on a chase, and was eventually pulled over and tasered when he didn’t cooperate while being arrested. They realized that driver was Clayton, who’d been having mental health issues. After being tasered, his heart had stopped.

“You found out about what happened to your son in the media instead of having someone phone you and tell you, or someone visit you and explain what happened,” said Kathy Donnelly.

“The hospital was not able to say for sure why he was dead, just that he was brain dead and we had to decide whether to take him off the machine or not,” said Clayton’s father, Kevin Donnelly.

The Donnellys assumed after Clayton’s death they would be told details of the police chase and arrest. But they say the IIO, which investigates officer-involved deaths, has left them totally in the dark for three and a half years.

“Six months went by, and then they phoned and said, well, we are still doing our investigation, wait, wait. Another six months goes by and they said, well, we are considering going to crown, but we aren’t sure yet,” said Kevin.

The Donnellys learned a file was forwarded to crown counsel 16 months ago. In an email, the BC Prosecution Office told CTV News “We issue a media statement when charges are determined in every IIO case.” So far, there has been no media statement, and no charges.

“If we don’t resolve it now, I mean, we’re not that young anymore. We could be dead before we find out what happened to him,” said Kathy.

So the Donnellys have filed a civil lawsuit against the Attorney General of Canada, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, and the unnamed RCMP officers who were involved in their son’s arrest.

While they are seeking financial compensation, Kevin Donnelly says that’s not the point of the lawsuit. “Money is not going to bring my son back,” he said, adding they feel this is the only way they can get answers. “I want to know what happened, and if there was a failure in training, procedures, whatever it was, it needs to be addressed.”

“I just need to know what happened, because it looks like he was traumatized,” said Kathy. ”They smashed all the windows out in his van. So I don’t know what happened, I can only guess what happened.”

Clayton’s parents say not knowing details of their son’s final moments has made losing him even harder.

“There’s absolutely no closure. Every day when I get up, I think about him. Like, what happened to him?” said Kathy. “He had his issues, maybe he should be in the hospital. But he shouldn’t be dead.” Top Stories

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