Pubdate: Sat, 04 Nov 2017
Source: North Bay Nugget (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 North Bay Nugget
Author: Jennifer Hamilton-McCharles
Page: A1


Charges against two men dismissed over unlawful strip searches by
North Bay police

Drug charges were dismissed against two men after a Superior Court
judge criticized North Bay police officers for their "blatant
disregard for Charter rights."

Ontario Superior Court Justice Norman Karam presided over the
pre-trial application last month that was brought forward by the
accused - Ryan Fray and Raymond Oppong.

Karam said the accused were unlawfully detained and strip searched,
breaching their Charter rights, following an invalid arrest.

Karam said North Bay police Det. Const. Bradley Reaume's failure

provide Oppong an opportunity to retain and instruct counsel without
delay was also "disconcerting.

"It is difficult to imagine a more blatant disregard for Charter
rights than occurred in this case," Karam said in his findings,
released Oct. 11.

All evidence was seized and forfeited, and all charges dismissed at
the request of the Crown.

Fray and Oppong were arrested in September 2015 and charged separately
with possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking. Each also
was charged with possession of Canadian currency not exceeding more
than $5,000 and simple possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana.

North Bay Police Chief Shawn Devine said the court's decision was
reviewed by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, which will be
working with the police service to ensure it lawfully protects the
constitutional rights of all citizens.

"We've also conducted a review of our policies and practices of search
persons under arrest," Devine said.

"We have identified some systemic internal issues and they have been
corrected, and provided more oversight to staff where a complete
search is required."

Devine said the police service also is aware of the Office of the
Independent Police Review Director's decision on March 16 regarding
police strip searches.

The office is currently reviewing Ontario police services' policies
and practices for conducting strip searches of people arrested or
otherwise detained.

Calling the strip search extremely intrusive, Karam said it had to
have a significant impact on the accused.

He called the breaches (of the Charter) serious, because "it is
evident that no thought was given to the protection of the accused's
rights at all."

According to Karam's findings, Reaume, the investigating officer,
received information from a confidential source that two men were
selling cocaine to a person known by police as a drug dealer who was
thought to be selling drugs from a North Bay residence.

Six days later, after receiving an anonymous telephone complaint to
police regarding the "comings and goings and numbers of visitors at
the North Bay home," Reaume and Det. Const. Tom Robertson began
surveillance of the home.

Police watched the home for almost four hours on Sept. 15, 2015, and
observed 15 people who entered and left shortly thereafter who were
known by police to be connected to the drug culture.

At about 4:30 p.m., a taxi cab pulled up to the residence with the two
accused. At 8 p.m. the two accused exited the residence and got into a
cab. Police followed the vehicle and eventually arrested the two men.

Police searched the two men and neither was found to have drugs,
according to Karam's findings.

Oppong had $361 in cash and Fray had $10 in cash and three

Once arrested, they were taken to the police station and at Const.
Reaume's direction strip searched.

Reaume was asked at the hearing why the strip searches were necessary.
He replied that in his experience when dealing with people charged
with cocaine trafficking they often hide drugs on themselves.

"When it was pointed out to him that at that point no drugs had been
recovered and that there was no evidence of drug trafficking by the
two accused, Reaume stated that since it was a drug investigation he
felt that was sufficient."

Karam said Reaume made it evident in his testimony that he would not
allow an accused to meet with counsel before conducting a strip search
because of the possibility that an accused person, when out of sight,
might destroy evidence hidden on him.

Oppong was found to have 13 grams of cocaine and Fray had less than
one gram.

Karam continued to say the information provided to police did not in
any way identify the individuals other than they were two black males
who were selling cocaine.

"There was no indication as to how the information was obtained,
whether it was observed firsthand or simply hearsay. There were no
details such as where these transactions took place or would take
place, when they had occurred or would occur or in what

Karam said police did not have reasonable and probable grounds to
arrest the two accused and therefore the arrests were invalid.

Karam said since there was no evidence implicating the two accused
before the strip search, Reaume's explanation was completely

"The decision to conduct a strip search, which is highly invasive,
therefore cannot be routine policy but must be specific to the
circumstance surrounding the arrest," he stated in his findings.

"In this case, there were no circumstances justifying the strip
searches. On the basis of Reaume's testimony, I am satisfied that he
arbitrarily conducted strip searches routinely for no other reason
than he thought he might find evidence."
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