Pubdate: Wed, 02 Aug 2017
Source: Ottawa Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Page: 14


When a man loses his home because of over-zealous - or mistaken -
police work, hard questions need to be answered.

We refer to the case of Royston Christie, 61. Cops booted in his door
and hauled him off for allegedly trafficking fentanyl in April.

They announced the arrest in a news release; federal prosecutors took
over the case; Christie was kicked out of his public housing
apartment; and he spent a week rotting in the notorious Innes Road

Except the "drugs" weren't fentanyl at all, according to lab tests.
The cops haven't said what the powder they found actually was, but
Christie says it was face powder from a girlfriend.

Federal prosecutors have since dropped the drug charges. But Christie
has still lost his apartment, based on the mistaken belief that he was
selling drugs from his public housing home. In the end, there was no
evidence this was so.

That means police have some explaining to do.

They say their policy is to charge first, ask questions later, when
they think they've seized drugs. OK, it's understandable that cops
need to be aggressive in the fight against drugs. Our laws say that
there must be consequences for dealing, and the courts are
particularly concerned about deadly fentanyl. There's a lot of
pressure on authorities to help curb the fentanyl epidemic.

But that doesn't mean they shouldn't be careful. The Ottawa Police
Service needs to review what happened here. Did they move too fast?
Did the judge err in signing off on a warrant? Was there a lack of
intel before the raid?

Prudence and fine policing are not in opposition to each

Christie was, perhaps, not an easy man to figure out for
investigators. He admits he was allowing people to use drugs in his
apartment, but he says he did this because, otherwise, they would be
using illicit substances in the building's stairwells.

The public housing corporation and the Ottawa police should make
amends. Give the man his home back. Set conditions if you're worried
about the company he keeps. But a dropped criminal charge is not a
good reason to put someone on the street.

Finally, an apology is in order. Maybe they should issue another news
release - this time so that the public sees them correcting the record.
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MAP posted-by: Matt