Pubdate: Wed, 28 Jun 2017
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2017 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Katie May
Page: B3


DRUG bust worth about a quarter of a million dollars has been tossed
out of court because city police violated the charter rights of two
men they detained and subjected to a warrantless search.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Sheldon Lanchbery dismissed all drug
trafficking charges against Benjamin James White and Jaden Joshua
Omeasoo earlier this month, after he ruled officers violated their
rights every step of the way.

"We will never know how this incident may have evolved if those rights
had been provided," Lanchbery said in his decision. "The officers are
not permitted

Ato pick and choose when section 10 (charter) rights are given to an
accused person and when they are not." After 1:30 a.m. on Sept. 14,
2014, general patrol officers happened upon White and Omeasoo, who
were both coming from Alberta, in a Tim Hortons parking lot near
Archibald and Marion streets.

The officers were investigating a call about a road-rage incident in
which two men in a red pickup truck reportedly had waved a handgun at
other motorists in the area. The suspects were described as Caucasian
men wearing baseball caps and hoodies, driving a red Chevrolet Silverado.

The truck police saw in the parking lot was a red Dodge with an
Alberta licence plate. One of the two men inside the truck fit the
racial description. The other was indigenous and was wearing a
baseball cap. Neither of the men was wearing a hoodie. Omeasoo got out
of the truck and walked into the coffee shop and one of the police
officers would later tell the judge he believed he was headed toward
the washroom.

The officers asked White, who was in the driver's seat, if they could
take a look inside the vehicle, and White agreed. They were looking
for a gun, but they didn't see one. Twelve minutes later, they told
the men they were free to go - despite not having advised them of
their legal rights when they detained them in the first place.

The initial fruitless search took a turn, ending in the seizure of 2.5
kilograms of drugs - including cocaine, crystal meth, ecstasy and
marijuana - when one of the officers, preparing to leave the scene,
went to the Tim Hortons washroom and found a .22-calibre bullet in the
urinal. The police called for backup and decided they then had enough
ammunition to arrest White and Omeasoo and do a more in-depth search
of the truck. Police had estimated the street value of the seized
drugs at $256,460.

But the bullet wasn't the smoking gun they needed to justify an
arrest, Justice Lanchbery ruled. He called it a "proverbial red herring."

"Finding the bullet is as close to a red herring as it could possibly
be," he said.

The two men were appropriately advised of their rights prior to the
second search, which also yielded a .22-calibre long-barrel rifle and

But that didn't matter, the judge decided, because police had already
violated their charter rights not to be arbitrarily detained, not to
be subjected to unreasonable searches and to be informed of their
rights upon being detained.

Without its key evidence, the Crown closed its case, after which the
judge dismissed all of the criminal charges. Both of the accused were
out on bail and are now free.
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