The Supreme Court of Canada is seen at sunset in Ottawa on September 1, 2020. Canada's top court refused on Thursday to hear a case involving the limits of police oversight, prompting a renewed call for a misconduct hearing against a police officer a Black family accused of brutality. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Supreme Court won’t hear police oversight case; Black family alleged brutality

Canada’s top court refused on Thursday to hear a case involving the limits of police oversight

Canada’s top court refused on Thursday to hear a case involving the limits of police oversight, prompting a renewed call for a misconduct hearing against a police officer a Black family accused of brutality.

At issue in the case was whether Ontario’s police watchdog had the power to review and reverse its own decision to refer a complaint to a disciplinary hearing.

The case involved allegations of excessive force by Toronto police after 19 officers smashed in the front door of the Stanley family home in 2014. The officers were acting on a tip about a firearm but none was found and no one was charged.

In March 2015, the Office of the Independent Review Director found evidence of “serious misconduct” against Const. Chris Howes for excessive force. Then-director Gerry McNeilly referred the matter to Toronto’s police chief for a disciplinary hearing.

However, a senior police officer complained that investigators had made a serious error in transcribing Howes’ statement. As a result, McNeilly reopened his office’s investigation without telling the family about the conversations with the officer before dismissing all allegations against Howes.

In its look at the case, Divisional Court rapped the watchdog for the secretive, back-channel chats with police. The court ordered a fresh investigation of the complaint, prompting the director to appeal.

In April last year, the Court of Appeal ruled McNeilly, who had resigned as director a year earlier, had no power to reconsider his initial referral. The Appeal Court also said Howes should face a disciplinary hearing but said the director had new powers to reconsider the referral.

The OIPRD had no immediate comment Thursday as to its next steps.

However, Selwyn Pieters, the family’s lawyer, called on the agency to “do the right thing” and order a misconduct hearing.

“I’m really disappointed in the posture that the OIPRD took in this case by compromising its independence and impartiality, and then running this thing up all the way to the Supreme Court,” Pieters said. “They fought them tooth and nail and lost.”

While the director now has the power to decide against a hearing, Pieters said the family will fight on if the agency makes that decision.

“If they do that, there’s going to be another judicial review,” Pieters said.

The case sparked controversy in Hong Kong in 2019 after McNeilly was appointed to advise the territory’s Independent Police Complaints Council. McNeilly later admitted he had not told the council about the controversy over his handling of the Stanley complaint.

He and others later resigned from the commission on the grounds it was toothless.

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Just Posted

kids
Lots of fun and learning to be found at the brand new ‘Market Buds’ program

Activities to run the gamut from outdoor games, treasure hunts and storytelling to seed planting and interactive games

Police officers and their dogs undergo training at the RCMP Police Dog Services training centre in Innisfail, Alta., on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Mounties say they are searching for an armed and dangerous man near a provincial park in northern Alberta who is believed to have shot and killed a service dog during a police chase. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
RCMP search for armed man in northern Alberta after police dog shot and killed

Cpl. Deanna Fontaine says a police service dog named Jago was shot during the pursuit

Alberta now has 2,336 active cases of COVID-19, with 237 people in hospital, including 58 in intensive care. (Black Press file photo)
Red Deer down to 73 active cases of COVID-19, lowest since early November

The Central zone has 253 active cases of the virus

Stettler
Stettler and area’s ninth annual Eco Excellence Awards have been announced

This year’s recipients include Louise Damen, Joanne Pinder, Jan and Bob Richardson and the Jewel Theatre

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

The Montreal Police logo is seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Some Quebec politicians are calling for an investigation after a video was released that appears to show a Montreal police officer with his leg on a young Black man’s neck during an arrest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Probe called for after video appearing to show Montreal officer’s knee on Black youth’s neck

Politicians call for investigation after clip evokes memories of George Floyd incident

Flora Northwest was taken to the Ermineskin residential school when she was six years old. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
Ermineskin residential school survivor: ‘It just brings me back to the cries at night’

Discovery in Kamloops of remains of 215 children a painful time for survivors

Most Read