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Windsor police officer demoted for ‘unnecessary’ arrest of two Black men

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A Windsor police officer has been demoted for neglect of duty for the “unnecessary” arrest of two Black men.

Sgt. Christian Gannon will be demoted to first class constable for three months.

After a 12-day Police Services Act hearing in Feb. 2023, Gannon was found guilty of unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority and neglect of duty.

“I am of the firm belief that Sgt. Gannon does not fully understand how his actions have affected himself and the organization to this day,” hearing adjudicator, retired OPP Sgt. Morris Elbers, wrote in his ruling. “He (Gannon) is under the firm belief — as he has testified — that his actions were appropriate.”

According to Elbers’ ruling, in Dec. 2019, Gannon was in charge of the DIGS (Drugs and Gun Enforcement) Unit, conducting surveillance at a residence in the city.

Evidence heard a Black man exited the home and drove to a retail store to meet up with his brother.

Once there, members of the Emergency Services Unit (ESU) arrested both men at gunpoint, ordered them to the ground and handcuffed them.

“Within a very short time it was acknowledged by the police officers that the wrong person was placed under arrest by the (ESU) and this was conveyed via radio transmission to the investigating officers,” Elbers explained in his ruling.

Elbers wrote Gannon arrived at the retail parking lot within minutes but did not remove the handcuffs or read the men their rights to counsel for an additional 10 minutes.

A fact that was contrary to Gannon’s notes, which indicated the brothers were released immediately, according to Elbers.

It only came to light after the complainant, Oluwaloba “Jordan” Afolabi, retrieved surveillance video from the retailer that illustrated the length of time he and his brother remained in handcuffs after Gannon arrived on scene.

“I can only say that without viewing the tapes he (complainant) recovered we would have been left with the notes of the officers and in particular Sgt. Gannon who wrote that upon learning of the mistaken identify the brothers were released immediately. We KNOW that is not correct,” Elbers wrote.

Gannon apologized to the brothers at the time of the incident and again during his hearing, according to Elbers.

“He (Gannon) attempted, in my opinion, to rectify the situation with the apology and the privatization of the incident for that day,” Elbers wrote.

The complainant testified he and his brother remain traumatized by the incident.

“He (complainant) stated as a Black man you act in a certain way as you want to believe that the police are doing the proper procedure. They have the information and the power. He has lost the competence and trust in the police due to the incident,” Elbers wrote.

“Their (complainant and brother) injuries were minor, but unnecessary,” wrote Elbers. “Sgt. Gannon’s conduct was unprofessional and he abused his authority.”

Elbers believes those actions tarnished the reputation of the Windsor Police Service, calling it a “betrayal.”

“Sgt Gannon’s conduct is of the most serious nature,” wrote Elbers. “He attempted to downplay his actions and create a justification for his conduct that his actions were justified when they were totally inaccurate.”

The complainant declined an interview after the hearing.  

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