This is a fictional event and constructed for the purposes of exploring criminal law and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
While on patrol shortly before midnight, a uniform officer, PC. Mehmet, in a marked police vehicle, observes a Silver Nissan with 2 males northbound on Bathurst Street in the City of Vaughan. The vehicle approaches a red light at Center St. slows, and without stopping fully, makes a right turn to go eastbound on Centre St. The officer follows to maintain observation of the vehicle as it continues eastbound. He observed the vehicle move from the curb lane into the centre lane and then make a left turn into the plaza corner of Centre St. and Maple Lane. At no time did the driver signal their lane change or the left turn into the plaza.
As PC. Mehmet, pulls into the plaza he observed a third male get into the rear passenger seat of the car and close the door. The officer initiates a traffic stop by pulling into the plaza and stopping behind the car and activating his roof lights. He exits the cruiser as the driver exits the Nissan and calls out to him. The driver approaches and PC. Mehmet tells him he is investigating the driver for failing to stop at Center St. and Bathurst when making a right turn on a red light and also for making a lane change and left turn into the gas station without signaling. PC. Mehmet requests that the driver identify himself with his Drivers Licence to which the driver responds “My wallet is in the car hold on”. During initial interaction the officer observed the drivers eyes were blood shot, The driver turns back to the car saying “we just wanted to stop and get snacks”. The officer follows and as the driver opens the car door to reach into the centre console to get his wallet he attempts to casually wipe a white powdery substance off the dash. PC. Mehmet, makes two additional observations he observes two small baggies in the centre console and along on the floor of the car under the driver’s seat and expandable baton. The officer has the driver step to the police car and watches the drivers uncoordinated attempts to pull out his licence and hand over. PC. Mehmet, looks at the licence in the name of Stephen Fry and then looks at the face of the driver. Flashing his light into the driver’s eyes he notes no change in the dilation of Fry’s pupils. He asks Fry is he has consumed any alcohol recently and the Fry says “no”.
In combination PC. Mehmet noted
a) Poor driving
b) Blood shot eyes
c) Poor coordination and
d) No pupil reaction to light
e) Unknown white powder and baggies on the dash and console consistent with drug use/possession
PC. Mehmet forms a reasonable suspicion that the Fry’s ability to operate a motor vehicle was impaired by drugs, detains the driver, and demands he complete testing for impaired driving after a cursory search he has the driver sit in the rear of the police car. PC. Mehmet requests a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) attend the scene to complete the needed roadside tests.
Two officers arrive on scene, The DRE, PC. Bellman and his partner, PC. White. PC. Mehmet directs the White to seize the two baggies he observed earlier in the car as there may be residual drugs or additional evidence of drug use in the vehicle. PC. Mehmet assists Bellman with the Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) of the Fry.
PC White goes to the car to speak with the other occupants and asks them to exit the car and sit on the curb beside the storefront while the driver is investigated. They comply but the rear passenger states “I just got here and don’t know what’s going on”. The officer checks the centre console and seizes the two baggies. Then engages the passengers in conversation.
Fry fails the SFST and the investigating officer demands he accompany the police to provide samples in order for an analysis to be made for the presence of the types of drugs as set out by law. PC. Mehmet and Fry leaves the scene.
PC White takes custody of the vehicle and as per statute requests a tow truck to impound the car. As part of the impounding process the officer conducts an inventory search of the vehicle. She inspects the centre console, glove box, and trunk and finds the following.
a) In the glove box, she observes 1 (full) small baggies containing a white powdery substance similar to cocaine
b) Backpack in the back seat and jacket
c) Observes a small satchel/purse on the floor of the front passenger seat
Upon moving the satchel, she notices its weight and the object inside feels like a gun, she opened the top flap and observes a black handgun. PC White immediately moves around the car and tells both passengers “You are under arrest for carrying a concealed weapon, don’t move”. PC White tells them to place their hands behind their backs. She calls to her partner shouting “GUN” for his assistance. The front passenger starts to verbally object and stand up and both officers take physical control of the suspect. As they do so the rear passenger gets up, backs away with his hands raised, then turns and runs from the scene. The passenger is cuffed, given his rights, searched and placed in the rear of the second officer’s car. He is identified as Peter Rudolph and it turns out he has prior weapons convictions and there is a warrant for his arrest for robbery in a neighbouring town. A further search of the satchel revel identification documents with in the name of Rudolph, a diagram of the store, its hours, and the location of the store’s safe.
PC White then checks the backpack in the back seat. It contains school books along with a student card in the name of John Smith. A check of that name reveals a match to youth of the same name and description who is on probation for theft who living a few streets east of the scene. The conditions of his probation include a curfew not to be out between midnight and 6 am, not to be in the company of anyone with a criminal record. PC. White seized the following:
a) 2 empty baggies with powder residue
b) 1 full baggie
c) 1 black handgun
d) 1 store diagram
e) 1 expandable baton from under the driver’s seat.
At 01:05 the officers leave the scene and attend the residence of John Smith. They go to the front door and upon looking through the window recognize the suspect standing in the hallway speaking with an adult male. They knock on the door and the adult answers. The officers identify themselves and state they are there to arrest John Smith pointing to him standing a few feet away. The male states he is John’s father Sam and he wants to know why the police want to arrest his son. The officers tell him “breach of probation and pending further investigation possibly weapons and drug charges”. The father states that “this is our home and my son will not be coming with you until after we speak with our lawyer. Please wait outside”. The officers state “your son escaped custody and fled the scene of our investigation a short time ago, he is right here in the hallway and we are arresting him”. Officer White turns to smith and tells him “You are under arrest and you need to come with us now”. Smith says no “I don’t want to, I didn’t do anything wrong”. The officer’s step into the hallway toward John, he backs away but they take him into custody over the objections of his father who initially steps between them and tells them “stop, get out of our house”. As the officers stop inside the door and they warn Sam Smith that any interference will result in his arrest also for obstruct and as an accessory after the fact as he is assisting his son to escape arrest. Sam steps back, takes out his phone and calls his lawyer as the police handcuff and transport John to the station for booking.
During booking the officers find two credit cards not in John Smith’s name in his wallet. When asked he says they are from a friend. They are seized for further investigation.
Upon Arrival at the police station Fry asked for his lawyer to be called but he didn’t know the number by hart, or how to spell the surname of his lawyer, a Mr. McCoghlain. After some arguing back and forth, Police told Fry that he would have to speak with a Duty Counsel lawyer, or none at all. Fry stated that he wanted advice from his own lawyer not some unknown person on the phone. He refused to cooperate any further in the investigation, declined to provide any bodily substances for testing as per the demand of the investigating officer, and refused to answer any questions except to demand the return of his baton saying he works as a security guard with Epitome Security at the local hospital and needs it for work in the morning. He refused to say anything further without speaking with his lawyer.
Rudolph is booked and placed into a cell pending a call back from his requested lawyer, He provided the police with the number and police have called and left a message. Rudolph is taken to an interview room where he is given privacy to speak with his lawyer that has called back. Upon completion of the call the investigating officer enters and begins an interview with Rudolph. Peter provides answers to all the basic questions related to his name, address etc. but when asked about the gun, diagram, and drugs says nothing. To all other questions he stays silent.
John in booked into custody and as he is escorted to a cell pending speaking with his lawyer. As John is led to his holding cell he walks by the cell occupied by Rudolph asking the officer when he can go home. Peter Rudolph, upon hearing Smiths voice, yells through the door “John I can hear you! keep your mouth shut or we’ll find you, you’ll never testify, be smart and stay healthy”
John’s father is already at the police station in the lobby and has informed the booking Sergeant that the lawyer is waiting for his son’s call. His father is advised that his son is being charged with breach of probation and being investigated for Possession of a stolen credit cards, gun and drug possession, and robbery.
A short time later John is led to an interview room where he speaks to his lawyer and, at his request, his father is present. John advises that after speaking with his dad and his lawyer he is willing to provide police with a statement of events.
Transcript of John’s statement on video:
John what can you tell me about this incident?
“I was on my way home when I saw Stephen pull into the parking lot. I know Stephen through a friend as someone who sells marihuana and I wanted to buy some weed. I walked over, he saw me and motioned to get into the back seat. I got in and recognized the guy in front with Stephen was Peter. He used to go to my school but was a few years ahead of me and we never really hung out but I’ve seen him at some parties. I asked Stephen if he had any weed. Peter asked Stephen if I was cool and Stephen said yes. Peter said, they needed someone to keep an eye out while they went into the store to take care of things and he would pay me for helping them out. I looked at Stephen and he said just keep an eye out for cops, you don’t have to come in just bang on the door if you see anything. He handed me two credit cards and said they were good for $500 each and they were mine if I stepped up. Just then the police car pulled up and Stephen got out of the car. I said, shit I gotta go, and I grabbed my bag to get out of the car when Peter said just sit still, be cool, and don’t attract any attention, I stuck the credit cards into my pocket. The next thing I knew the officer was at the car and told us to get out. I sat on the curb waiting and then the officer came around and said you are under arrest and I got out of there and ran home. I told my dad what happened but I didn’t tell him about the cards, I was going to return them as soon as I could. I just wanted to buy weed. I have nothing to do with anything else they were planning.”
What did you think they wanted you to do?
“Be a lookout for something, maybe steal some stuff or the guy in the store owed them money, I don’t know.”
Why did you take off instead of explaining to the officers at the scene?
“Listen, I’m no snitch but when I was told I may be charged with gun and robbery crimes and then when that Peter threatened me! I’m not going down for something I didn’t do, I just wanted to smoke some weed. Not only that I would have been home on time if the police hadn’t shown up and kept me from going home on time. Besides, the officers never would have believed me anyway.”
Did you know they had criminal records?
“No… I mean, I knew Stephen from school and I bought weed from him before.”
What about the drugs, did you know there were any drugs in the car or what kind?
“I was looking for weed, Stephen didn’t have any of that. I didn’t know about anything else.”
Is there anything else you can tell us?
What about Peter’s threat, How did that make you feel?
“I’m worried about what he will do later, that’s why I’m giving this statement. He is why I’m here. If anything happens to me or he comes after me, I don’t want him getting away with it.”
The following are some of the possible charges police could lay against one or all of the three suspects in the scenario.
1. Operation while impaired
2. Refusal to comply with bodily substance screening demand
3. Firearm in a motor vehicle
4. Possession of a controlled substance included in Schedule I
5. Conspiracy to commit robbery
6. Carrying a concealed weapon (Baton)
7. Carrying a concealed weapon (Handgun)
8. Uttering Threats
9. Possession of Stolen Credit Card
10. Fail to comply with a probation order
11. Escape from lawful custody
This is a fictional event and constructed for the purposes of exploring criminal law and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.