Beaten woman sues Mounties over 911 calls

The Province
Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Province May 23, 2007

A Vernon woman beaten for nearly 90 minutes while waiting for the RCMP to answer her call for help is suing the Mounties.

Gayle Hull was left with a shattered cheekbone, a fracture of the bones of the eye socket, nerve damage and a broken hand after being attacked by her partner, Dave Otto, on June 8, 2004.

Hull dialed 911 but Otto hung up the phone before she could speak.

The 911 dispatcher called back but Otto hung up again.

RCMP weren't dispatched until neighbours saw Hull flee the house. RCMP arrived an hour and 27 minutes after the first call.

Otto was convicted of aggravated assault and breaching a conditional sentence.

Hull says the Mounties later ignored her complaints when Otto breached his bail conditions to stay away from her. The lawsuit alleges her Charter rights to security and equality were breached.

After appealing, without success, to Attorney-General Wally Oppal and Solicitor-General John Les, Hull says she had nowhere else to go but court.

"It's something that has to be done in order to make changes for women," she said. "I cannot accept the status quo of how they deal with domestic violence."

Hull wants to see changes to the RCMP policy for dealing with women in violent relationships.

Her lawyer, Richard Parsons, says the 911 call and bail breaches were ignored because of "systemic discrimination against women who are the victims of violence in relationships."

Said Louisa Russell, a spokeswoman for Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter: "If Gayle Hull is successful it will make it more likely that the police will come when battered women phone for help."

*Note Gayle Hull continues her case in 2011