Pubdate: Fri, 07 Oct 2016
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Michele Mandel
Page: 4


Judge blasts cops for actions that sent man to prison for 5 years

It's another black eye for Toronto Police delivered from the judicial

Unfortunately, it comes rather late for Nosakhare Ohenhen. Long after
the admitted drug dealer finished serving five years in prison,
Justice Michael Quigley has acquitted him of all charges at his
retrial, slamming Toronto cops for racial profiling and suggesting
they may have even planted the drugs found in the man's Jaguar when he
was stopped on Aug. 21, 2008.

Quigley said he had "very serious concerns about systemic police
misconduct here" - officers detained and searched Ohenhen and his
vehicle without cause and his request to contact his lawyer "was
totally and shockingly ignored by the police" for almost five hours.

As a result of those "very serious and egregious charter violations,"
the judge threw out the evidence of the gun, cocaine and marijuana
seized during his illegal arrest.

"These are deeply troubling examples of police conduct dedicated to
the 'end justifies the means principle,' " Quigley said in his
judgment. "Mr. Ohenhen paid serious consequences for that conduct,
having been sentenced and only released in 2014. That calls for strong
judicial sanction."

Ohenhen, 28 at the time, parked his car near Parkdale Collegiate and
was walking to retrieve the cellphone he forgot at his friend's house
when he was stopped by police on bicycle patrol.

One officer told the court he stopped him for a seatbelt infraction,
another said his music was too loud. They then suspected the bulge at
his waist was a gun. It wasn't.

"Mr. Ohenhen was detained without any legal basis to support it, and
then, when he ran away ... as he was entitled to do given no legal or
articulable cause for his detention, he was chased, tackled, searched
at least three times, two at the scene and once at 14 Division, and
his vehicle was searched with no warrant and no grounds to support a
need to do so," the judge said.

"The 'icing on the cake' was the total failure of police authorities
to respect Mr. Ohenhen's rights to be told why he was detained and
arrested, which never happened at the scene, and only later at the
police station, and the total and admitted failure to permit him to
retain and instruct counsel without delay. There was plenty of delay

Ohenhen was nailed with 17 charges, including possession of a loaded,
restricted firearm found hidden in his car and possession of cocaine
and of marijuana for the purposes of trafficking.

Clearly, this was not a law-abiding dude. But the police didn't have a
legal right to go on a hunting expedition to find that out.

"The question was whether the rule of law applies, whether you have a
right to drive freely in this city," said Ohenhen's lawyer, Luc
Leclair. "I'm happy that that, at the end of the day, the judge saw
what was going on."

Ohenhen was convicted in 2010 and sentenced to nine years in prison.
The Court of Appeal, after a fiveyear delay, ordered a new trial in
2015, but by then he had already finished serving his sentence. But he
wasn't willing to walk away. Ohenhen always argued that he was pulled
over that afternoon because he was a black man driving an expensive
vehicle. The judge agreed. Quigley accused the five police officers of
colluding "to get their stories straight" to justify the unlawful stop
and search and answered an estimated 100 questions with the same "I
don't remember." The judge didn't buy any of their testimony. "I have
found it to be neither credible nor reliable, individually or in its

Quigley also wondered whether Ohenhen's drugs were actually seized
from a youth stopped by the same officers an hour earlier. "It ...
raises at least a strong suspicion, if not compelling evidence, that
Mr. Ohenhen's claims that the police planted drugs on his person are

That is quite a damning and troubling accusation.

"While the public is rightly concerned that communities need to be
kept safe from firearms and drug trafficking," Quigley concluded,
"they are not people who are ever likely to believe that the end will
justify the use of illegal and unconstitutional means."

Not surprisingly, Ohenhen is considering a civil lawsuit.
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