By Jane Seyd, North Shore News November 9, 2012
A North Vancouver man who successfully fought to overturn an obstruction of justice conviction connected to a jaywalking ticket is going to court again after being handed more tickets by police for the same thing in the same location.
Don Sipes, 50, has filed a small claims suit against the North Vancouver RCMP seeking $15,000 for harassment.
Sipes filed the lawsuit Oct. 30 after being handed two tickets for jaywalking when he walked across Chesterfield Street twice under the watchful eyes of two officers. Police also arrested him and said they would recommend charges of obstruction after Sipes refused to give his name to the officers who encountered him outside of the 7-Eleven store.
“They put me in handcuffs,” he said. “It’s unconscionable.” Sipes immediately filed a civil lawsuit against the RCMP, saying he’s tired of being picked on in Lower Lonsdale, where he lives.
“They’re bullies with badges,” he said. Sipes is no stranger to tangling with police through the courts. In July, he succeeded in B.C. Supreme Court in overturning an obstruction conviction stemming from an almost-identical incident in North Vancouver. Armed with the case law, Sipes represented himself in court, arguing that refusing to give his address to police didn’t make him guilty of obstruction.
In 2009, the West Vancouver Police Department was also forced to pay Sipes damages after a provincial court judge ruled he had been illegally arrested as he was walking down the street in January, 2006. In her decision, the judge criticized the police, saying Sipes was arrested “without any grounds at all.” Sipes said at the time he had been repeatedly harassed by police officers.
Sipes alleges that’s what happened again Oct. 30, when he went to buy a sandwich at the convenience store near his apartment. After realizing he forgot his wallet, he started to head back, said Sipes, when a police officer on the corner called out to him, “Hey, what’s your name?”
Sipes said he told the officer unless he was under arrest, it was none of his business. That’s when the drama started.
Sipes said he crossed the street near Presentation House and was followed by two officers, who caught up with him and gave him a jaywalking ticket. They also said they would recommend a charge of obstructing police. When he walked back to the store after retrieving his cash, Sipes said the same officers gave him another ticket.
Sipes said he feels targeted by officers because of his previous legal battles with police.
Cpl. Richard De Jong, spokesman for the North Vancouver RCMP, confirmed Sipes was handed tickets for jaywalking, but added he isn’t being specially singled out.
“We do have our lower Lonsdale foot patrols,” said De Jong. “It’s not uncommon for our officers to observe people jaywalking.”
Sipes plans to fight both the jaywalking and any obstruction charge in court. “I can use my own case as a precedent to beat this,” he said.
Sipes added he won’t be filing a police complaint because “It’s a complete waste of my time.” Although he has won a complaint against a West Vancouver officer in the past, Sipes said he thinks the process is stacked in favour of the police.
“They say, ‘We were wrong. We won’t apologize. Who cares? Goodbye,'” he said. “I don’t need that.”
Sipes said earlier this year he believes standing up for himself is a matter of preserving his civil rights.
“You don’t have civil rights unless you have a court case that says you do,” he said.