For Immediate Release – January 29, 2024

The Canadian Epilepsy Alliance is pleased by today’s news that the Crown has dropped the charges against Marcus Charles.”, says Laura Dickson, CEA President.

On October 22, 2022, emergency services were called to a Hamilton Canadian Tire store to assist Marcus Charles who experienced a seizure while at work. During the interaction with Hamilton police Charles was restrained, tasered, and eventually sent to the hospital with multiple injuries. Marcus was charged with three assault charges: Assault, assaulting a police officer, and assaulting a police officer causing bodily harm.

Mr. Charles’s legal team, Chris Rudnicki and Theresa Donkor, said they were “very pleased” with today’s result. The Crown withdrew the charges based on training material provided by the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance – material that was already in the police training portal. Chris and Theresa wish to thank the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance for their crucial help in securing the result in this case.

After the charges were withdrawn, Mr. Rudnicki provided the following statement on behalf of his client: “This case highlights systemic problems with how our system treats people with epilepsy Marcus’s friends and colleagues called 9-1-1 because they needed help from trained professionals. Instead, the system failed at every level. The paramedics called the police on a non-criminal issue; police used force on a person suffering from a seizure, ultimately tazing Marcus twice as he walked away; and the Crown attorney took over a year to do the right thing and withdraw the charges. More needs to be done to ensure that first responders and public servants receive the training they need to treat seizures as a medical issue—and not a criminal one.” 

“I just want to use my story to turn things towards the positive, to bring attention to the fact that people experiencing a seizure may not be aware of what is happening, they may be confused or appear as non-compliant. It’s important to think about what else could be happening so people don’t end up the way I did.”, says Marcus Charles. “I want to give a huge appreciation and just pure love to the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance for always making sure me and people suffering from epilepsy and just health issues, in general, get not only the help they need but their story heard across the world. I want to thank Canadian Tire for treating me like a family and making sure I was also safe… I feel like epilepsy training should be required by law for our healthcare systems and police in general so they have a better understanding of how people with epilepsy react and respond when still currently coming too from it.” continued Charles.

“I love to give a huge thanks also to the people that have been giving 200% since they first heard and that’s Trevor Gordon from the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance and my lawyer Chris Rudnicki. I’m also extremely happy knowing that my charges are dropped and I don’t have charges on my record over misunderstandings, and lack of police training from police being educated on people with certain health issues i also wanna thank everyone who has taken the time to donate and express nothing but love and a speedy recovery for me because without that I would be struggling a lot mentally.”, finished Charles.

“This case highlights the reason why the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance (CEA) encourages police forces from coast to coast to coast to learn about and take advantage of readily available training currently hosted on the Canadian Police Knowledge Network (CPKN) so that officers are equipped with the tools and knowledge to prevent a similar situation from happening in the future.”, said Dickson. Epilepsy and Seizure Response Training for Police Officers was developed by Epilepsy Ontario through a grant made possible by the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Members of the law enforcement profession have access to the training through the Canadian Police Knowledge Network (CPKN). This training was developed when an off-duty police officer in Ottawa who was newly diagnosed with epilepsy had a seizure and responding officers called to the scene tased him when they didn’t recognize he was having a seizure. The training is available in English only and viewers are required to pay a small fee to access the training. The CEA is working to eliminate the fee to access the training and develop an equivalent offering in French.

About the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance

The Canadian Epilepsy Alliance (CEA) is a Canada-wide network of grassroots organizations dedicated to the promotion of independence and quality of life for people with epilepsy and their families, through support services, information, advocacy, and public awareness. If you need help or assistance, call our Canada-wide toll-free number 1-866-EPILEPSY (1-866-374-5377) to reach the agency nearest you.

 

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Media contact: Trevor Gordon, Communications, Canadian Epilepsy Alliance

(905) 450-1900 x 206            communications@canadianepilepsyalliance.org