Assault Victim Suing Police

Woman seeking millions of dollars in compensation from police, city

By JAMES RUSK

Saturday, November 20, 2004 – Page A19

Globe and Mail

Wyann Ruso was so afraid on that Wednesday morning that she took her husband’s rifle out of their Scarborough home and brought it to work in the trunk of her car.

When she got to the Toronto local of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, where she is a secretary, a co-worker persuaded her that it was time to go to the police.

“I saw her visibly crying and upset,” union official Sharry Smith said after a news conference yesterday morning, at which Ms. Ruso described the horrific events that allegedly transpired on Nov. 3.

“She told me last night at home her husband started on her and he said he was going to kill her with this gun. So she took it from the home, and she said she had this gun in her trunk.

“I took her into my office and said: ‘This is how far it has gone now. . . . We have to go to the police. There is no more thinking about it.’ ”

Ms. Ruso said simply: “I was very afraid for my life.”

Together they went to 42 Division where they turned over the rifle and reported the incident to an officer who is a specialist in domestic violence.

Hours later, Ms. Ruso said, she was attacked with an axe and a hammer.

“I have cuts on my head, I guess from the axe. I was hit with a hammer and the bones pushed into a nerve. He broke my jaw and fractured my skull. I don’t know that I’ll ever get my . . . sight back in this eye,” Ms. Ruso, 53, told the news conference.

It was the first time she has had a chance to describe the attack publicly since the Toronto Police Service did not, in the words of Police Chief Julian Fantino, “do what we were to do in a timely fashion.”

Clearly nervous, and in a voice choked with emotion, Ms. Ruso said her marriage was breaking up and her husband had said he would rather kill her than let her go.

“I told the officer about my husband’s threats to kill me.

“She assured me that he would be arrested very soon,” Ms. Ruso said.

She and Ms. Smith then returned to work, where they arranged to install an alarm in the Ruso house and to change the locks.

Ms. Ruso said she told police that she wanted to go home to care for a seriously disabled adult daughter, but was cautioned not to return until her husband was arrested.

“Over the next few hours, I telephoned the police station three or four times to find out if he had been arrested. I was told that he hadn’t been, but would be arrested soon. I was told that the officer would phone me back, but she never did.

“A little before five o’clock that day, I returned home. My husband was there, and was very angry. As you know, I was attacked with an axe.”

She is still angry about the police response. “I just wish they would take the situation more seriously than what they did.

“They promised me they would go out, and they didn’t do it. I wouldn’t be here today like I am if they had. They have to start and take quicker actions. Otherwise, why do we go there?”

There is talk of a lawsuit. Her lawyer, Peter Rosenthal, told reporters that the city and the police could avoid one by offering to compensate his client now.

“It would be appropriate for the City of Toronto and the Toronto police force and their various insurers involved, whatever, to just come forward and give her a big settlement that will try to compensate a little bit for this,” he said.

Asked what a settlement should be, he replied: “It certainly has to be in the millions of dollars. It has to be. This kind of negligence on the one hand and the trauma on the other hand calls for a very large settlement in this case.”

Giuseppe Ruso, 55, has been charged with attempted murder.

What do you say to all of that?

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