Pubdate: Fri, 08 Feb 2008
Source: Now, The (Surrey, CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 South Fraser Publishing Ltd.
Author: Tom Zytaruk
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Canada)


An accused pot grower caught a big break from a B.C. Supreme Court 
judge this week when his case was tossed out after the judge ruled 
the Surrey RCMP acted unreasonably during the raid on his house.

Mike Farnworth, the provincial NDP's public safety critic, has called 
on the attorney general to appeal the decision.

"I don't agree with this ruling," he said, fearing it might 
potentially hamper the ability of the police to take down grow ops.

Van Dung Cao was charged with growing marijuana for the purpose of 
trafficking after six members of the Surrey RCMP drug squad executed 
a search warrant at 11143 157A Street in March 2004 and found 704 
plants in the basement.

Cao maintained his Charter Rights were violated by the manner in 
which the police entered.

In her reasons for decision, Justice Catherine Bruce noted that the 
police didn't do a "risk assessment" of the residence first and found 
that they went in through a side door with a battering ram without 
doing a "knock and announce," as they had at the front door shortly before.

The accused testified that he was on his way to answer the pounding 
on the front door when he heard the commotion at the side door.

After the cops entered through the side door, with their guns drawn, 
they found the accused in the laundry room, pointed their guns at his 
head and arrested him.

Cao's lawyers argued that the police violated his Charter rights by 
failing to knock at the side door and announce their intent, and not 
giving him sufficient time to respond before barging in. Bruce 
decided that the police hadn't assessed safety risks before entering 
the house to justify such a show of force.

"This so called 'knock and announce' rule is not a mere formality," 
she noted. "This rule is necessary to ensure the personal safety of 
anyone inside the residence at the time of entry as well as the 
police." There was nothing, she found, to warrant such a "dynamic 
entry." Moreover, she decided, police hadn't given Cao time to answer the door.

"In my view, a shocking entry without a prior 'knock and announce,' 
with guns drawn and ready to be discharged, and pointed at the 
accused's head, could have produced disastrous consequences," the 
judge remarked. "I find the violent entry executed by the police was 
unnecessary in all of the circumstances and clearly created a danger 
for the accused and the police."

In the end, Bruce decided that admitting the evidence - the plants 
seized - given the circumstances of the raid, "would bring the 
administration of justice into disrepute." 
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