Dentist pushes forward with lawsuit against officer
Dr. Simona Tibu is suing officer Robert Behiels, the solicitor general and minister of public security of Alberta for $5.6 million, alleging loss of income, future loss of income and earning capacity and cost of care stemming from a traffic stop on Aug. 3, 2013. Supplied
A former Camrose dentist is pushing forward with a lawsuit against a sheriff, the solicitor general and minister of public security of Alberta.
The lawsuit stems from a roadside scuffle during a traffic stop near Camrose on Aug. 3, 2013.
The story made headlines across the country as Dr. Simona Tibu was left with injuries to her face from the altercation which lasted more than 10 minutes, while accusing Sgt. Robert Behiels of assault and sexual assault. Those charges were dropped before going to trial.
Tibu was convicted of assault and resisting arrest and received a one-year suspended sentence of community service. The conviction was overturned on appeal on Dec. 11, 2015, on account that Behiels did not provide sufficient time for Tibu to produce her identification, asking for the documents 10-12 times in 44 seconds.
"True, Sergeant Behiels was dealing with an irrational driver, but on his own description of events, there was no opportunity for the Appellant to comply with the request to produce the documents since within seconds the situation escalated with his rapid fire demands, while the driver expressed irrational worries about her car," said Justice Sheila Greckol in her oral judgement in 2015.
Following those 44 seconds Behiels arrested Tibu and the altercation took place outside her car on Highway 21.
This decision was upheld by Justice Frederica Schultz under appeal in April of 2016.
In June of 2015 Behiels launched a $4 million lawsuit against Tibu alleging he has suffered damage to his reputation and loss of income and has been the victim of ridicule since the incident in 2013. The suit was dropped in 2017 and he was ordered to pay Tibu $1,000 in legal fees.
In April of 2016, Tibu filed a counterclaim against Beheils and the province, suing them for $5.6 million. The suit alleges loss of income, future loss of income and earning capacity and cost of care. Included in the assault portion of the lawsuit, Tibu continues to allege sexual assault during the roadside stop as well as physical assault which led to the injuries she suffered when he landed on top of her when they fell to the road.
"The loss of income is a significant area of damages for Simona, she has suffered greatly in terms of her reputation and her work as a dentist," said Tibu's lawyer Michael Smitiuch. "She has been forced to change her last name in order to practice as a dentist, she has been forced to move to different places because of the harm the charges caused to her reputation. So she is continuing to seek to clear her name and hold the sheriff accountable. She has suffered financially, physically and emotionally."
Jason van Rassel, the communications advisor for Alberta Justice and the Solicitor General, issued the following statement on behalf of the defendants through email: "This action is still in its preliminary stages and no trial date has been set. Because the case remains before the courts, we have no further comment."
Smitiuch took over this portion of the case recently as Eliza Maynes had previously represented Tibu. Smitiuch, based out of Toronto, says he has extensive experience in the area of unlawful police arrests and assaults.
Smitiuch says it will likely be next year before the case sees the inside of a courtroom, if at all.
"If they are willing to come to the table with a fair and reasonable resolution of the matter, then that certainly will be considered as well," he said.