The man accused of pulling a handgun out of his pants in the back of a Toronto police cruiser is suing the city, police services board and others for $2 million for failing to prevent him from being shot in a separate, high-profile incident, according to court documents.
Earlier this week, several media outlets broadcast or posted online in-car police surveillance video capturing an impaired driving suspect squirming in the back of a moving cop car as he tried to extricate the pistol, prompting Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders to announce a two-pronged investigation into the circumstances and the leak.
Ali Showbeg, age 38, of Mississauga, faces nine criminal charges including eight firearm-related offences, including possessing a gun contrary to a prohibition order. He is scheduled to appear in court Monday. In 2006, he was convicted of multiple charges including four firearm-related offences and drug trafficking.
Showbeg is the plaintiff in a lawsuit that contains sweeping allegations that several defendants did not ensure there were adequate safety measures during rapper Drake’s OVO Music Festival after-party at the packed Muzik nightclub at Exhibition Place on Aug. 4, 2015.
The defendants all deny Showbeg’s allegations, saying they did take proper safety precautions and that they couldn’t have reasonably foreseen or prevented the shooting.
Two people died and several were wounded after gunfire erupted around 3 a.m.
No arrests have been made in the killings of Duvel Hibbert, 23, and Ariela Navarro-Fenoy, 26. Police have said Hibbert was the target and Navarro-Fenoy an innocent bystander. (Hibbert’s family is suing Muzik for $2.5 million, claiming there were inadequate security measures that evening — allegations denied in a statement of defence.)
According to Showbeg’s statement of claim filed in 2016 in Ontario Superior Court, he was a “lawful patron” attending the event when an unknown assailant shot him in the abdomen, “without any warning or provocation.” There’s no suggestion in the court documents that he had any connection to the two deceased victims, who were shot in different places in and outside the club.
A letter from Showbeg’s personal injury lawyer, Jwan Desai, filed in court says he suffered injuries from three gun shots. She did not return voice mails or email messages from the Star asking for comment about the lawsuit.
In his statement of claim, Showbeg says he suffered “serious and permanent injuries, including, but not limited to a diaphragmatic injury requiring surgical intervention, general bruising to his body, as well as a severe shock to his system. He has been subjected to a significant amount of pain, discomfort and personal distress.”
Showbeg’s lawsuit claims his injuries and resulting damages from the shooting were caused “by the joint and several negligence and breach of duty of the defendants.”
Named as defendants are the city, Toronto Police Services Board, Canadian National Exhibition Association, Hypnotic Clubs Ltd. (operating as) Muzik, October’s Very Own (OVO) Inc. — the company founded by Drake — security companies, and the unknown shooter, referred to as John Doe.
The statement of claim says the defendants had “full knowledge of the high-crime activity and of previous incidences of dangerous criminal activity at the premises, failed to initiate any procedures or have adequate security measures and/or equipment in place to ensure that patrons at or near the premises were reasonably safe.”
Lawyers for the city, police board, CNE Association, Hypnotic Clubs Ltd., OVO, and a security company have all filed statements of defence that deny any liability for what happened to Showbeg, as well as filing cross claims. The statements of defence all contain similar responses to Showbeg’s allegations.
“Muzik pleads that all material times there was adequate and appropriate properly trained personnel and uniformed paid duty police officers in attendance at the premises and that there was an appropriate security protocol set up for patrons,” reads the statement of defence filed Dec. 20, 2018 by lawyer Robert Love of Borden Ladner Gervais. Love is also representing the City of Toronto and police board.
He declined to make any comment to the Star about Showbeg’s lawsuit. OVO’s lawyer, Iva Nishisato, who works at the same law firm, said he would look into the matter Thursday, but did not respond after that.
No one could be reached for comment at the CNE Association. But the association, made up of over 125 member organizations, denies all allegations. Its statement of defence says there is “no reasonable cause of action against them,” and denies the shooting could have been “foreseen or prevented.” It, like the others, is asking the lawsuit be dismissed with costs awarded to the defendants.
The Toronto Police Services Board’s statement of defence, filed by a city solicitor prior to Love taking over the file in 2019, says if a court finds the defendants should have foreseen or prevented the shooting, “which is not admitted but expressly denied, then these defendants state that the Plaintiff caused or contributed to his own death by not taking precautions as to his own safety, by moving from a position of safety to danger.” City lawyer Glenn Chu did not return the Star’s request for comment.
Muzik has since closed its’ doors at Exhibition Place.
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Showbeg’s statement of claim says he suffered from a variety of ailments and injuries, including 25 conditions such as chronic pain, anxiety, depression, and irritability.
“As further result of the negligence of the Defendants, the Plaintiff has undergone and will continue to undergo in the future, surgery, hospitalization, therapy, rehabilitation and other forms of medical treatment and health care,” the statement says.
“His enjoyment of life has been permanently lessened and he has been forced to forego numerous activities in which he formerly participated.”
The plaintiff has sustained “a loss of income and will continue to sustain a loss of income, a loss of competitive advantage in the employment field, a loss of income earning potential and a diminution of income earning capacity. His competitive position in the marketplace has been compromised. He will be forced to retrain and find alternative employment and delaying his re-entry into the employment field. He will be required to retire early. He will lose future employment income, benefits and pension income.”