Pubdate: Fri, 29 Oct 2004
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Sam Pazzano, Courts Bureau


Drug Charges Tossed After Judge Rules '02 Search Was Illegal

DRUG DEALING charges against a Toronto man were thrown out after a judge 
ruled police violated his Charter rights with an illegal search. "(Police) 
acted precipitously and in a capricious, flagrant and arbitrary manner," 
Justice Sandra Chapnik stated in excluding 24 grams of cocaine and $1,313 
in cash as evidence since police had no reasonable or probable cause to 
arrest Anthony Archer, 42, on March 15, 2002.

This is the latest in a recent series of judgments critical of police. It 
mirrors two high-profile racial profiling cases where drugs seized were 
excluded due to illegal searches and charges were stayed or dismissed.

Must 'Play By Rules'

"I don't know why this is happening, but maybe the tide is turning -- 
police officers aren't automatically believed," Archer's lawyer, Blair 
Drummie, said. "Officers will get their convictions but they have to play 
by the rules and most officers, I'm sure, do. But we're discovering now 
some don't and are getting caught. The judiciary may be noticing this."

Justice department lawyer Xenia Proestos withdrew the charges of possession 
for purpose of trafficking and proceeds of crime possession against Archer 
after Chapnik ruled the evidence resulted from an illegal search and was 
therefore inadmissible.

"The police appeared to have 'jumped the gun' on suspicion alone. There was 
no constellation of objective facts and articulable cause for his arrest," 
Chapnik wrote. "Retrospective findings of illegal activity after the fact 
will not suffice.

'Takedown Fashion'

"This constituted a serious violation of his rights. I find that the 
officers converged on the scene in a takedown fashion."

Police alleged they found 24 grams of crack cocaine as well as cash on or 
near Archer as he and two other black men stood outside Henry's Restaurant 
near Keele and Wilson. Police were investigating drug and liquor licence 

Archer, a married Toronto demolition worker with four kids, was arrested 
and charged. Another man pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana.

Court heard that more than a dozen officers, their guns drawn, converged on 
Archer and the two men. Police shouted: "Freeze. Don't move. Where are the 
f--ing guns?" No weapons were found.

One of several inconsistencies in officers testimony included the way they 
allegedly detected the crime. Four officers testified the arrest came from 
a routine observation of an apparent drug deal with a weight scale in a 
parking lot.


But Chapnik heard that Archer and his friends were simply entering a 
vehicle when police descended in what Drummie described as "a 
commando-style raid."
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