4 police officers charged with perjury, obstruction
Published Thursday, January 28, 2016 9:04AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 28, 2016 2:14PM EST
Four Toronto police officers have been charged with perjury and obstruction of justice in relation to the arrest of Nguyen Son Tran in January 2014.
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders announced the charges at a news conference at Toronto Police Headquarters on Thursday morning.
The officers are facing a total of 17 offences, including nine counts of obstruction of justice and eight counts of perjury, after allegedly providing false testimony in court.
The officers charged are:
- Const. Jeffrey Tout, 41
- Det. Const. Benjamin Elliott, 32
- Const. Michael Taylor, 34
- Det. Const. Fraser Douglas, 37
The charges are related to the case of Nguyen Son Tran, who was arrested in January 2014 near Broadview Avenue and Gerrard Street after allegedly going through a red light.
Tran was accused of drug possession and drug trafficking after police claimed they found heroin inside the car.
However, in September, Superior Court Judge Edward Morgan dismissed the charges against Tran. According to court documents, Morgan ruled that the drugs found in his car were not admissible due to an unreasonable search and seizure that violated Tran’s charter rights.
The judge also said the officers’ testimony was inconsistent.
“The false creation of a pretext to search the defendant’s vehicle, combined with collusive fabrication of a story by the two lead Officers as to why they came to assist in the traffic stop of the defendant, certainly amounts to egregiously wrong conduct,” Morgan wrote in his decision.
Tran testified that he had not run a red light, and claimed that he was pulled over after one officer recognized him. Tran said no heroin was found in his car, but an officer pulled out a bag of heroin after searching the vehicle.
According to the court documents, it was the same officer who had arrested Tran a year earlier. Tran pleaded guilty to possessing heroin in that case, according to court documents.
At the news conference, Saunders said he has formed a taskforce to investigate other cases the accused officers have handled.
The police chief also said that the public can “rest assured” that the force “does not tolerate any bad behaviour of any kind.”
Saunders added that he has the "confidence that our officers that conduct investigations on other officers do so in a professional manner, and they do so to make sure that we enhance that transparency.”
Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, told reporters that the union is “very troubled and deeply concerned” about the charges.
“This goes to the heart of policing,” McCormack said, adding that the allegations are “unproven” and that the officers are entitled to “presumption of innocence.”
The investigation was carried out by Toronto Police Service’ Professional Standards department.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
With files from The Canadian Press
Police Chief Mark Saunders speaks at a news conference on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016.