Pubdate: Fri, 29 Jan 2016
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 The Toronto Star
Author: Rosie DiManno
Page: A2
Bookmark: (Corruption - Outside U.S.)


Attempted murder, deceit, collusion, perjury, obstructing justice and 
something else that won't be revealed until a disciplinary tribunal 
in March. These are your cops, Toronto. "It certainly has been an 
anomaly week for our service," said Police Chief Mike Saunders, 
confirming the latest charges Thursday. And you've got to feel some 
sympathy for the guy, who's barely had a moment's peace since he got 
the top job.

Const. James Forcillo: Guilty of attempted murder in the six rounds 
he fired at the already dying teenager Sammy Yatim.

Const. Jeffrey Tout: two counts of obstruct justice, two counts of 
perjury, laid yesterday.

Det. Const. Benjamin Elliott: three counts of obstruct justice, three 
counts of perjury.

Const. Michael Taylor: two counts of obstruct justice, perjury.

Det. Const. Fraser Douglas: two counts of obstruct justice, two 
counts of perjury.

Tout, Elliott, Taylor and Douglas, all alleged to have planted heroin 
in a suspect's car, were charged criminally early Thursday after they 
took themselves to a police station. All suspended with pay. All 
still enjoying liberty because their first court appearance isn't 
until March 11.

Const. Tash Baiati: Charged under the Police Service Act in relation 
to an incident where at least 14 bullets were fired at a vehicle 
boxed in - not moving - by two patrol cars. The specific charge(s) 
Baiati is facing won't be known until his first appearance before a 
disciplinary tribunal March 8.

Toronto cops should be fuming. Not because their fellow officers have 
been convicted or charged with serious crimes, morale on the force 
purportedly plummeting, to hear police association Mike McCormick 
tell it. They should rather be furious - every cop from among the 
thousands who serve Toronto and have never been convicted of a crime, 
never been charged criminally or under the Police Act, never planted 
evidence or lied on a witness stand, or concocted a story among 
themselves, or in any other way disgraced the uniform.

They should be enraged by colleagues who've brought their police 
service into disrepute. Just like those 90 officers who preemptively 
removed their badge numbers during the G20 protest five summers ago 
because they didn't want to risk being identified if something 
untoward happened, as it did.

Open up another can of union-paid cop lawyers.

The Professional Standards unit has been investigating the four 
officers charged criminally Thursday since last September, when 
Justice Edward Morgan threw out drug charges against Nguyen Son Tran 
and issued a blistering condemnation of the cops - and of their 
misleading sworn testimony in court, described as "egregiously 
wrongful conduct" in which the police witnesses had "obviously colluded."

It was far from the first time a judge has admonished a cop for lying.

Tran had spent a year in jail awaiting trial. He hadn't made bail 
because of a previous drug charge, laid by the same officers.

Now, because the cops themselves have been charged, every 
investigation in which they'd been involved, every case that went to 
trial with their fingerprints all over it, will need to be 
scrutinized. There is the very real possibility, if the officers are 
found guilty, of convictions being quashed. Let that be top of mind 
to all those who believe instinctively in the virtue of every single 
police officer: society's first line of defence against criminals.

Another kick in the goolies is what the Toronto police service didn't 
need right now.

We are obviously still talking about a handful of cops under a 
criminal dark cloud. But, in the latest scandal, these were all 
veteran officers, not relative greenhorns acting rashly in the moment.

"It's all kind of strange for him," said Kim Schofield, speaking on 
behalf of Tran, whom she defended at trial. "It comes as a relief 
more than a surprise. Relieved and impressed."

Tran was pulled over on Jan. 13, 2014, allegedly after running a red 
light, which the defendant has always denied. "They'd been watching 
him," Schofield claims.

Had Tran indeed not run that light, purportedly almost hitting a 
pedestrian, there would have been no legal grounds for stopping him 
or subsequently searching his car.

Const. Tout, who pulled Tran over initially for the alleged driving 
infraction, put the suspect's details out over police radio and 
discovered Tran had drug trafficking charges against him. When he 
approached the car again, Tout testified he saw grains of white 
powder on the Toyota's centre console and arrested him for possession.

Tran said he was stopped at the red light when he saw D.C. Elliott 
sitting in an unmarked car alongside. Tran recognized him from his 
earlier arrest. When Tout approached his Toyota, said Tran, the 
officer was speaking on his cellphone. He overheard Tout say: 
"Exactly him." Two minutes later, Elliott and Taylor arrived at the 
scene. In searching the car, they found 11 more grams of heroin, 
wrapped in plastic and concealed behind the steering column.

Yet, at trial, the officers could not produce any plausible 
explanation for how the loose heroin - which triggered the search - 
got onto the dashboard. No explanation for why there were no 
partially empty bags or drug paraphernalia found in the car, no trace 
of drugs on Tran's clothing and no theory for why the suspect, an 
experienced drug trafficker, wouldn't have simply wiped off the loose 
heroin on the dashboard before Tout appeared at his window.

As Morgan made clear, a traffic stop alone would not have justified 
police searching the vehicle. He wrote in his judgment: "Officer 
Elliott required some evidence of an ongoing offence to be openly 
visible in order to justify a search of the car. It is the defence 
position that the officer solved this problem by simply depositing 
the requisite evidence in the form of powdered heroin spread across 
the console of the car."

This would have been done after Tran - who's disabled and was using 
crutches - had exited the car.

Morgan, unimpressed with the officers' testimony, concluded the 
heroin was planted. "(T)he false creation of a pretext to search the 
defendant's vehicle, combined with the collusive fabrication of a 
story by the two lead officers as to why they came to assist in the 
traffic stop . . . certainly amounts to egregiously wrong conduct. . 
. . the misconduct evidenced here is entirely beyond anything that 
the courts can accept." That rendered the search illegal. 
Interestingly, Morgan refers to Taylor in his ruling as a sergeant. 
Now he's a constable. Saunders said Thursday that no officers had 
been demoted in rank. Police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray told the Star 
afterwards that Taylor had been a probationary officer. "He was not 
confirmed into that role, so he retains the status of constable."

The status of a constable charged with half a dozen counts of perjury 
and obstruct justice.

"I've had many cases before of similar findings," said Schofield. 
"But never with this kind of investigation. Maybe this judge issued a 
not-watered-down version of events. Maybe this will teach officers 
that they can't lie with impunity."

Four cops. Seventeen charges. One officer guilty of attempted murder.

One hell of a bad week.
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