Southwestern Ontario judge accuses area OPP of racial profil

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a bill of rights entrenched in the Constitution of Canada. The Charter guarantees certain political rights to Canadian citizens and civil rights of everyone in Canada from the policies and actions of all areas and levels of government. It is designed to unify Canadians around a set of principles that embody those rights.

Southwestern Ontario judge accuses area OPP of racial profil

Postby Thomas » Sat Jun 18, 2022 4:12 pm

Southwestern Ontario judge accuses area OPP of racial profiling in man's arrest

SIMCOE – A Southwestern Ontario judge “strongly denounced as unacceptable and intolerable” the conduct of Norfolk OPP in a case involving a young Black man.

SIMCOE – A Southwestern Ontario judge “strongly denounced as unacceptable and intolerable” the conduct of Norfolk OPP in a case involving a young Black man.

In a 9,100-word decision, Ontario Court Justice Aubrey Hillard said the conduct of officers who arrested and tasered Cassell J. Chase, 21, in Delhi last July 11 “calls into question the integrity of the justice system itself.”

Wrote Hilliard: “The police misconduct involved in the excessive use of force, the breach of Mr. Chase’s right to counsel and racial profiling resulting in unequal treatment, each individually warrant condemnation by the court. When considered together, I find the police conduct must be strongly denounced as unacceptable and intolerable.”

Chase came before the judge charged with two counts of prowling at night, obstructing police, escaping custody, assaulting police causing bodily harm and failing to comply.

He was stopped after police got a report of a man spotted near the downtown, checking out homes. Police were told the man was wearing no shoes.

An officer stopped a shoeless Chase near the neighbourhood, but Chase declined to give his name. When he ran away, he was chased by four officers.

Const. Richard Fody, the acting sergeant on duty that night, yelled for Chase to stop, then deployed a Taser, felling the man. Fody used the Taser again when Chase began to move.

Fody testified that Chase wanted to get up. “So, I cycle the Taser one more time just to say, ‘You got to stay on the ground, you got to be compliant, you listen to our commands’.”

Chase was held overnight, without the chance to call a lawyer or speak to duty counsel, according to the decision.

“I find that PC Fody’s belief about the threat posed by Mr. Chase was a result of PC Fody’s perceptions of Black people,” Hilliard said, noting that his attitude likely affected the way other officers interacted with Chase.

The following day during fingerprinting, Chase twice punched an officer, fracturing his nasal bone, according to the decision.

A three-day trial was held with Chase’s lawyer asking for all charges to be stayed due to multiple charter rights violations. Hilliard dismissed the two prowling charges, saying there is no evidence Chase was the man lurking around the neighbourhood.

The judge also dismissed the charge of escaping custody, saying Chase hadn’t been arrested or detained when he ran from the officers, who contradicted each other during the trial.

Hilliard said a pedestrian has no legal obligation to answer questions from an officer during an “investigative detention.”

The judge also dismissed the obstructing police charge, noting police have the right and duty to ask questions but citizens aren’t obligated to answer unless they’re part of a “regulated activity” like driving.

Since there was no evidence presented in the trial that Chase was bound by a probation order, Hilliard dismissed his fail to comply charge.

The final charge was for assault, where Chase’s actions were clearly caught on camera.

But the judge then began to tally the ways Chase’s charter rights had been violated: detained and questioned despite making it clear he wasn’t talking; Tasered twice while not under arrest; having an unjustified amount of force used that was “racially motivated” by an officer who referred to him as a “coloured male;” not provided a lawyer call; and never advised of a reason for his detention.

Considering the multiple breaches of rights, there was no other option but to stay Chase’s last charge, said the judge. “The breaches were flagrant and involved racial bias. The remaining charge . . . may not have even occurred had Mr. Chase been given an opportunity to speak with a lawyer after his arrest.”

Hilliard said the officers involved were either unaware of Chase’s charter rights or chose not to inform him of those rights.

“Ignorance or malice – I find that this conduct supports my conclusion this incident was neither isolated nor trifling. Failure by the police to uphold the charter-enshrined values must result in that conduct being denounced by the court on behalf of the greater community.”

In 2019, Justice Hilliard condemned a “culture of complacency” within Norfolk OPP that resulted in charges being stayed against an Ohsweken man after it took 16 months to charge him after DNA confirmed his involvement in a crime. She added that anything short of staying those charges would look like the court was condoning the “dereliction of duty” shown by police and would send a message to the public that the judiciary doesn’t hold police to account.

Leah Shafran, a criminal defence lawyer from Toronto who represented Chase, said Hilliard’s ruling sends a clear message.

“This wasn’t one breach of rights in the heat of a busy night,” Shafran said in an interview. “It was breach after breach after breach.”

The lawyer said it is particularly concerning that officers didn’t seem to be clearly aware of Chase’s charter rights. “I hope a case like this will encourage further education and proper training.”

Shafran said she and Chase have filed a complaint against Fody with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, which handles complaints about police in Ontario.

OPP spokesperson Derek Rogers said the police force is aware of Hilliard’s decision and is conducting an internal investigation. “We are assessing the information and will take any appropriate action,” Rogers said.

A message left for Fody at the Norfolk OPP detachment was not returned.

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Judge finds Norfolk OPP officers engaged in racial profiling

Postby Thomas » Mon Jun 27, 2022 1:34 pm

Several ‘egregious’ Charter violations committed during Black man’s July 2021 arrest in Delhi

Ontario Provincial Police are conducting an internal investigation after a judge recently ruled a Black Toronto man was the subject of racial profiling during an arrest in Norfolk County.

Along with being racially profiled, the judge found that officers from Norfolk County OPP seriously violated a number of Cassell Chase’s Charter rights when he was stopped while walking on a Delhi street one evening last July.

“The OPP is looking into the potential actions of the officers,” OPP spokesperson Derek Rogers said in a brief statement.

“We are not in a position to offer a comment on the judge’s comments,” he added.

Norfolk County OPP received a call just before midnight last July 11 about a man with no shoes lurking around houses in Delhi, according to the judge’s decision.

Const. Leanne Best responded and saw Chase, shoeless, walking on the sidewalk along Main Street. She called out to Chase, got no response, then got out of her cruiser, approached him and asked him to identify himself. He told her — accurately, the judge noted — that he wasn’t obligated to provide his name.

Acting Sgt. Richard Fody arrived and they continued to ask Chase to identify himself. Then two other officers showed up.

Chase dropped a bag and ran off, chased by the four officers.

Fody caught up to Chase and deployed his Taser twice in succession. Chase was arrested, handcuffed, put in zip-tie leg restraints, placed in a police cruiser and taken to the OPP’s Simcoe detachment.

Around 11 a.m. the next morning, Chase was taken to a room for photographs and fingerprints. He then punched a special constable twice in the face. After he was subdued, he was placed in leg irons and carried back to his cell by four officers.

Chase was charged with two counts of prowling at night and single counts of obstructing police, escaping lawful custody, assaulting police causing bodily harm and failure to comply with probation.

During the trial, Fody twice described Chase with the term “coloured male” and also used the term “coloured” when talking about another reported occurrence of a suspicious man in the weeks prior to the incident with Chase.

When questioned in cross-examination about his choice of words, the judge said Fody became defensive, saying he “didn’t know if it was OK for him to use the word Black to describe Mr. Chase’s race.”

“The treatment (Chase) received by police from the moment PC Fody arrived at the location where Mr. Chase was detained by PC Best was impacted by racial profiling,” stated Justice Aubrey Hilliard in her decision.

“Racial bias in policing is a long-standing and systemic issue that must be clearly and unequivocally denounced,” the judge added.

Hilliard found several Charter breaches were committed by the officers — unnecessary detention, excessive use of force, unequal treatment based on the racial profiling, failure to be promptly informed about the reasons for detention and failure to be given the right to speak to a lawyer promptly.

Hilliard noted that Chase was held for more than 12 hours without being given a chance to speak to a lawyer.

A recent Torstar investigation shone a light on the prevalence of police who commit serious Charter violations — more than 600 court rulings over the past decade where judges were forced to take action to correct police misconduct.

Torstar’s national investigation found many of these rulings fly under the radar of police services, raising concerns that officers who flout the law are not being held to account and the public is unaware of the scope of the problem.

In Chase’s case, the judge dismissed all of the charges except for assaulting a police officer. On that one, she ordered a stay of proceedings because “the police conduct in this case was so egregious.”

“They were either unaware of how their interaction with Mr. Chase engaged his Charter rights or they deliberately chose not to inform Mr. Chase of his rights,” Hilliard stated.

“Whatever the explanation — ignorance or malice — I find that this conduct supports my conclusion that this incident was neither isolated nor trifling.”


The OPP spokesperson said Fody and Best would not be commenting because the incident is under investigation.

Leah Shafran, Chase’s lawyer, said the OPP officers showed a lack of understanding about Charter rights.

“A number of the officers indicated that when they stopped Mr. Chase, he wasn’t detained but he also wasn’t free to leave,” said Shafran. “Which is a detention.”

“They clearly struggled with understanding that concept,” she said. “It was an overwhelming amount of breaches there.”

Shafran said it was “very difficult” for Chase to listen to the testimony in court, “specifically when the officer used terms that were offensive to him as a Black man.”

“That’s reminiscent of the 1960s and the Southern U.S., not 2022 in Canada,” Shafran said. “It’s concerning if that’s the mindset of police in Norfolk County.”

Shafran said Chase has not received an apology from the officers or the OPP for his treatment. She said Chase has filed a complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director and he is considering a civil lawsuit.

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