“The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all” – H.L. Mencken
Torstar news service reported another incident of a gun crime going unpunished because arresting officers could not detail the reason or suspicion for stopping and searching the alleged criminal. According to the judge the case was thrown out because “at least 4 charter rights were breached”.
Police approached three black males just before midnight, two of which ran off. All were wearing heavy clothing on a warm day. The one male that was held, seemed nervous and ‘unresponsive to questions’.
Ontario Court Justice Diane Oleskiw wrote in her ruling that “people of different ethnicities sometimes dress in heavy clothing even during warm weather and young black men are sometimes nervous around police”. The end result: the BB gun cannot be entered evidence and charges are dropped. What is Oleskiw thinking? Only thugs wear heavy coats in summer. Simple. And dressed like that, while concealing a weapon is also a reason to be nervous and unresponsive! Two others from the group ran away, all the more reason to suspect these guys are up to no good. That kind of behaviour warrants a search in the eyes of most law abiding citizens.
I understand the need to protect our individual charter rights and freedoms. However with the rise in gang violence Toronto has seen we cannot turn a blind eye to gun crimes. Putting aside all my prejudices about clothing, running away from police, hanging out at a closed strip mall, there has to be a better way to handle these situations besides just dropping charges. If you want to protect rights and freedoms, you punish those responsible for breaching those rights. It is obvious police are not fluent in charter rights, OR at least how easy it can be to cross the line. I don’t necessarily blame them, after all the courts have bastardized the spirit of the words on that charter.
A simple suggestion of how the laws should change in violent crimes, gang crimes, gun crimes, drug trafficking:
Punish the cops. If the judge finds that rights of a person charged with a crime were breached, then we should hold the police officers accountable, instead of just letting a criminal off. In this case for example the gun charges would stick. A gun was found on the defendant, he does not deny this. We can only imagine what this young man planned to do with the weapon. It definitely wasn’t something legal. He should face the consequences of his actions and be tried for his crimes. The judge should then separately decide whether any charter/freedom breach was incidental like in this case where it seems police were doing their jobs – protecting the community. In this case, some retraining may be required. In more severe cases, officers should be held to task and charged criminally if it is deemed so.
This young man now knows (if he didn’t already) how to beat the justice system. It won’t be long before he upgrades that BB gun for a 35mm with the potential to become another Danzig or Eaton Centre – and why? Because he learned no lesson. Instead of punishing him for his offense we reward him for the offenses/mistakes of a police officer. He is set free to terrorize innocent people. We need to amend laws to protect the civilized, not the criminals.
[UPDATE] – Less than a day after posting this, we have learned that Eaton Centre shooting suspect Chris Husbands faced nine weapons charges just a few months prior to unleashing his food court massacre. . The charges were withdrawn, and although it is unclear why (since he was found sleeping in a car with the loaded guns), I’m guessing that it was some technicality. A scoundrel was allowed to terrorize our city because his rights came before that of those innocent lives he shattered.