Suspected drug trafficker walks after Charter rights violated
Superior Court of Justice shown in this file photo in Windsor, Ont., Nov. 19, 2013. (Melanie Borrelli / CTV Windsor)
Published Friday, June 22, 2018 10:57PM EDT
The case against a suspected drug trafficker in Windsor has been thrown out after Judge George King ruled the man’s Charter rights were violated by police.
Today in Windsor Superior Court, King found Brandon Nunn had several of his rights, outlined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, violated by police — determining Nunn had been illegally searched, failed to be informed of his right to counsel and held in detention unlawfully.
Nunn walked free today after being held in custody for more than a year.
Defence lawyer Julie Santarossa says King got it right by throwing out the evidence and the case against Nunn based on the Charter rights violation.
“There are so many that were violated in such egregious ways and ultimately, that’s what the judge found,” says Santarossa.
On April 15, 2017, officers with the Windsor Police Service responded to a pepper spray incident at the McDonald’s restaurant at Goyeau St. and Wyandotte St. E in downtown Windsor.
Security camera footage shows Nunn was the victim of the pepper spray after what appeared to be a confrontational exchange with another person.
The unidentified person didn’t testify in the proceedings.
When officers arrived, Nunn was agitated and screaming to go to the hospital.
A responding officer testified he heard Nunn “may be violent” and found him to be uncooperative once arriving on scene. The officer decided to perform a pat down search, telling Nunn the search would have to be done before he could go to the hospital.
The officer found 81 fentanyl pills in a clear plastic bag along with Nunn’s cell phone in one of his pockets.
Nunn was subsequently transferred to hospital. It was in hospital that Nunn was told he was facing a drug charge.
King determined police did not have any reasonable grounds to suspect Nunn had committed a crime, did not have reasonable grounds for a search and acted unlawfully in informing Nunn of his right to counsel and subsequently detaining Nunn.
Santarossa says the ruling shows the law matters.
“One of the main things that the judge said, which is essentially our law is that despite this being very serious, we also have a very serious public interest in ensuring that police are held accountable to the law themselves and treat people according to the law and what our constitution allows,” says Santarossa.
While recognizing fentanyl and opioids are a major concern, King focused on the significance of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to Canadian society and stressed allowing the case to proceed by accepting the evidence of fentanyl pills would erode trust in the justice system after the suspect’s rights had been trampled on.
King says it would amount to a move in the direction of a totalitarian society as opposed to the free and democratic society Canadians expect.