Vancouver man assaulted after confronting street preacher now suing
VANCOUVER -- The West End man who was allegedly assaulted during an altercation with a street preacher in Vancouver’s Davie Village last summer is now suing the preacher, an evangelical ministry, the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Police Department.
According to the civil claim, filed last week in B.C. Supreme Court, Justin Morissette suffered a broken leg and back injuries, and is now seeking damages, including from Dorre Love, the street preacher charged with aggravated assault.
“Justin is still in significant pain on a daily basis,” his lawyer Jim Hanson told CTV News Vancouver.
“He still can’t walk without the aid of crutches,” Hanson added.
The claim stems from a confrontation on Aug. 22 near Davie and Thurlow streets, where Love, who is also named as Dorre Strother in the lawsuit, was spewing anti-gay rhetoric.
At the time, police said there was shoving involved, and Morissette was thrown to the ground.
In a video posted to his YouTube channel in October, Love said he would be “exonerated” of the charges.
The lawsuit accuses both the city and the VPD of negligence, in particular that both “had recognized that (Love) was a threat to public order” over a month before the alleged assault.
The claim goes on to say that VPD had arrested Love on July 14, but were aware “he would not be deterred by the arrest, and that he planned to continue the anti-social activities.”
“They arrested him, as they say, for initially disturbing the peace,” Hanson said. “And yet they allowed this all to continue.”
Vancouver police deferred comment on the lawsuit to the city, which told CTV News it had not yet been served with the claim and wouldn’t be commenting.
CTV News reached out for comment on the civil suit to Dorre Love via his Facebook and Instagram pages, and to Toronto-based Christ’s Forgiveness Ministries via its Facebook page and web site, but has not received responses.
Hanson declined to say how much Morissette is asking for in damages, loss of earnings, and legal costs, but said: “Justin hopes that this lawsuit will serve as a kind of precedent to stop this kind of behaviour.”
It’s unclear what additional actions, if any, the Vancouver police could have taken to prevent the alleged assault.
After the Vancouver Police Board received several complaints about the police response to the street preachers last summer, the VPD reviewed its actions and, this January, produced a report.
The report, which names both Dorre Love and David Lynn of Christ’s Forgiveness Ministries, found, in part, that “none of the street preachers’ words or actions met the threshold required by law to (criminally) charge (them) or their associates with inciting hate.”
The report went on to say Canadian law protects lawful freedom of expression even when others find it objectionable and that to date, none of “these street preachers” have been successfully charged and convicted under Canada’s hate laws.
Morissette’s lawyer wouldn’t say whether his client is open to a settlement.
“What we’re seeking is justice,” Hanson said. “And we’re seeking a precedent that will benefit our community and others.”
Love is due back in court on the aggravated assault charge in March.