….this shouldn’t be, but it is.
“DUI charge thrown out….”, began a Toronto Star headline over court reporter Alyshah Hasham’s byline on July 31 of this year.
“After ruling that a Toronto police officer assaulted a drunk driving suspect and told him to urinate in the back seat of a police cruiser, a judge threw out an impaired driving charge this month” (July).
Jong Won Jung failed a roadside breathalyzer test and was arrested at a RIDE stop late on February 28. Video from the police cruiser shows Jung telling Officer Amanpreet Gill that he really needed to go to the washroom as he was waiting to enter the police station. Gill told Jung to hold it ‘til after he was processed, and, according to Ontario Court Justice Joseph Bovard, “Gill went further and demonstrated a belligerent and demeaning attitude toward Mr. Jung. He told him to urinate in the police cruiser.”
Jung used a washroom eventually, and was later handcuffed to a bench in the station when he was assaulted by Gill for accidently hitting the officer with a phone receiver put to his ear to speak to his waiting girlfriend. Gill repeatedly shoved the handcuffed man, knocking his head against the wall behind the bench and then further hit his head six or seven times with the phone receiver. Constable Corey Sinclair, Gill’s rookie partner, denied witnessing an assault, and Jung didn’t complain further given a lack of response to his initial objections.
Judge Bovard ruled that 15-year police veteran Gill showed a “lack of honesty” about what happened that night, and that the testimony of both officers “lacked candour” when it came to what happened in the police cruiser…..until confronted with the in-car video. Gill and Sinclair were not forthright with the court, the judge found, and charges against Jung were dismissed.
The Ontario Court of Appeal, the province’s highest court, ‘quashed’ multiple convictions against Perth County’s Frank Strauss in a 3-0 decision at the beginning of August. The court ruled that police had violated the rights of this Hells Angel member who’d been convicted of charges that resulted in an 11-year jail sentence.
Police found guns, drugs, cash and ammunition behind a fake wall in a barn leased to Strauss, according to a report by Sean Fine, a justice writer for the Toronto Star in an August 2nd story. The police had a warrant to search but had earlier in the investigation picked a lock and broken into the same barn…..without a warrant.
“The court said the justice system’s reputation needs to be protected from what it described as blatantly illegal police behaviour”, read the article.
“A senior investigating officer and his team made a conscious decision to ‘gamble’ with the law and the courts,” wrote Justice Mary Lou Benotto in her ruling.
The Star quoted University of Alberta law professor Steven Penney, a criminal law specialist, describing police behaviour as “pretty shocking misconduct, to deliberately and knowingly violate the Charter just because they felt it was in some general public interest.”
“Policing & ‘alternative facts’”, our February 5th posting, covered an event leading to Toronto Police Sergeant Eduardo Miranda facing a hearing for use of ‘excessive force’ when he appears to repeatedly taser and stomp on a man during an arrest. The event was captured on video by complainant Waseem Khan who was told over and over he couldn’t record, even though citizens have a right to do so if they are not obstructing.
A reading of the earlier posting details what led to the complaint. Ontario’s independent police review director, Gerry McNeilly, issued a report covered by the Toronto Star in its August 11 edition, where the OIPRD found that there was “evidence of misconduct” by officers on site.
He went on, “Clearly, in my view, this matter had to be investigated, not just based on the complaint filed, but also on the videos and so on. I see what’s on TV. I found that the actions of the officer reached a threshold for misconduct based on the excessive use of force and I determined that it was serious. That means that the matter must go to a tribunal hearing. The chief has no choice.”
Against police orders, Sgt. Miranda and five constables failed to activate in-car camera system microphones upon reaching the scene. The five constables not singled out in the report will be subject to less serious informal discipline for misconduct.
Waseem Khan has full standing at the September 26 hearing, and plans to attend. He believes the police are losing public trust, and this case will underscore that operating outside the law is not “okay.”