Friday, June 05, 2015

Rohan Roberts Files Human Rights Complaint for Racial Profiling against Toronto Police

By Selwyn A. Pieters, B.A., LL.B., L.E.C. 
Lawyer & Notary Public

TORONTO -- A Human Rights Application has been filed with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario by Mr. Rohan Roberts alleging racial profiling by Toronto police.

The Toronto police services board, Retired Chief William Blair, Current Chief Mark Saunders, Superintendent Tony Riviere, Detective Dion Monahar, Constables Andrew Keown and Ryan D'Sena are named in the Application filed Wednesday evening by Lawyer Selwyn Pieters on behalf of Rohan Roberts.

The complaint alleges racial profiling and differential treatment  in the provision of services and facilities based on race, colour, ancestry and ethnic origin contrary to sections 1 and 9 of the Human Rights Code.

The application arose as a result of a December 16, 2014 encounter in a Jane & Finch neighbourhood between Rohan Roberts and Constables Andrew Keown and Ryan D'Sena.

On Tuesday December 16th, 2014, or about 1:30 am officers The Applicant exited through a fire exit door of his apartment complex at 5 Needle Firway. As The Applicant walked along the sidewalk he observed a marked police cruiser entering his apartment complex. The Applicant observed that shortly thereafter the police cruiser turned off its lights and was following The Applicant as he walked along the parking lot of his complex.

The Respondent police officers Keown and D’Sena then drove up alongside the Applicant demanded his identification and questioned The Applicant about whether or not he had marijuana on him and/or was smoking. The Applicant responded in the negative.

The Respondent police officers Keown and D’Sena spent some time running my name through their various databases. After some time, The Applicant's identification was returned to him and he was was advised that he was free to go.

The Applicant then collected his identification and as he was walking away he stated to the officers “you guys always like to harass people.” This utterance was made by The Applicant because in his apartment complex and neighbourhood he has been subjected to numerous stops and searches by Toronto Police Officers working out of 31 Division and TAVIS.

One of the officers then said to the Applicant "what did you say to me" “You are going to shoot You Pussies?”  No such utterance was made by the Applicant.

The Applicant was then rushed by the officers, arrested, handcuffed and dragged to a grassy area just outside of the door leading to the parking lot and beaten by the officers.

The Applicant had no alcohol or illicit drugs on his person at the material time, date and place. The Applicant did not consume any alcohol and/or illicit drug at the material time, date and place.

The Applicant faced trumped up charges of assault with intent to resist arrest and threatening death. The Applicant pleads that these charges which were withdrawn on April 28, 2015 on the basis that no reasonable prospect for convict exist were meant to criminalize The Applicant.

The Applicant was assaulted in the police vehicle in responding to a question as to whether he believed the Respondent  officers’ conduct was racist.

The Applicant pleads the actions of Keown and D’Sena that is pleaded herein caused him injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect. The Applicant was subjected to humiliation; victimization; and was vulnerable in the face of the conduct of the Respondent  officers.

The Applicant experienced a loss of dignity and self-worth that is the direct result of the infringement by the Respondents of his right to equal treatment with respect to goods, services and facilities without discrimination and/or harassment based on race, colour and ethnic origin or a combination thereof contrary to section 1 and 9 of the Human Rights Code.

Senior Toronto police officers, including the Chief, have spoken against the practice of racial profiling in the past. However, in 2014 and 2015, Toronto Police Chief William Blair and now Mark Saunders seemed unperturbed, and their comments seemed to imply that there is nothing wrong with police discriminating by skin colour. Mark Saunders referred to the persons complaining about the pernicious police practices as "collateral damage" in his first press conference as Chief of Police on April 20, 2015.

Thus, the Respondents, Police Services Board, the police administration and Keown and D'Sena, violated the Applicant's human rights in policy, practice, and effect, by engaging in racial profiling.

Officers D'Sena and Keown are also involved in another matter in the Jane & Finch area involving Black Youth Michael Duru in January 2015 that was captured on video that went viral:

Michael Duru video

Jeff Gray Toronto police face human-rights complaint over alleged beating Globe and Mail, June 05, 2015

Mark Carcasole, Reporter, Global News, Toronto man launches human rights complaint against police, Global TV, June 05, 2015

Greg Ross, Toronto man files human rights complaint after alleged police beating CBC TV, June 04, 2015

Tammie Sutherland, EXCLUSIVE: Charges dropped against man who alleged Toronto police brutality CityNews, April 28, 2015

Copyright © 2015 Selwyn Pieters. All rights reserved. Please use citation if using or relying on my analysis.

Selwyn A. Pieters, B.A. (Toronto), LL.B. (Osgoode), L.E.C. (U.W.I). Lawyer & Notary Public (Ontario). Attorney-at-Law (Republic of Guyana and Republic of Trinidad and Tobago).

Selwyn has appeared at all levels of courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada in Attorney General of Ontario v. Michael J. Fraser, et al., 2011 SCC 20  and Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse, et al. v. Bombardier Inc. (Bombardier Aerospace Training Center), et al. (2015 - decision reserved); Ontario Court of Appeal in Freeman-Maloy v. Marsden 267 D.L.R. (4th) 37, 208 O.A.C. 307 (C.A.); Bangoura v. Washington Post (2005) 202 O.A.C. 76, (2005) 17 C.P.C. (6th) 30 (Ont.C.A.), McAteer v. Canada (Attorney General) 2014 CarswellOnt 10955, 2014 ONCA 578, 121 O.R. (3d) 1, 376 D.L.R. (4th) 258 (CA) and most recently R. v. Steele (2015) ONCA 169 (Ont. C.A.);  the Federal Court of Appeal in The Honourable Sinclair Stevens v. The Conservative Party of Canada, [2005] F.C.J. No. 1890, 2005 FCA 383. He represented Correctional Manager Mariann Taylor-Baptiste in the ground-breaking competing rights case of Taylor-Baptiste v. Ontario Public Service Employees Union, 2012 CarswellOnt 8965, 2012 HRTO 1393, 2012 C.L.L.C. 230-022 reconsideration denied in 2013 CarswellOnt 1033, 2013 HRTO 180, 2013 C.L.L.C. 230-019 at the HRTO; Civil Rights lawyer Charles Roach in the Oath cases of McAteer, Topey, Dror-Natan v. Canada (Attorney General) 2013 CarswellOnt 13165, 2013 ONSC 5895 (ON S.C.) and Roach et al. v. Canada 2012 CarswellOnt 7799, 2012 ONSC 352 (ON S.C.) which is a constitutional challenge to the oath in the Citizenship Act.

Selwyn has provided representation to persons charged with various criminal offenses including Drugs: Selling and Possessing, Shoplifting, Serious Offences of Violence: Aggravated Assault, Assault with a Weapon and Robbery, Gun Offences, sexual assault, robbery, theft, extortion, HIV/AIDS litigation; fraud, break & enter, attempted murder, murder, regulatory offences under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, professional disciplinary offences, and conspiracy offences.

Selwyn has also been involved in drugs, guns and gang trials including "Project Green Apple", "Project XXX" and "Project Kryptic", "Project Corral" which are some of Canada's largest Criminal Organization prosecutions. Selwyn is currently counsel for an accused in "Project Feline" and Project Revival" drug sting operations. In Project Corral, Selwyn's advocacy resulted in the "gang expert" evidence being discredited and the Criminal Organization charges against his client and others being tossed out by the Court: R. v. Agil, Chambers, Fullerton, Jimale and Brown 2011 CarswellOnt 18099 (Ont. CJ. July 14, 2011, Khawley J.)

Selwyn recently obtained an extraordinary remedy of costs agains the Crown for failure to provide disclosure of police officer memo book notes in R. v. W.(J.), [2013] O.J. No. 2284, 2013 CarswellOnt 6322, 2013 ONCJ 270 (Ont. CJ.).

Selwyn is the successful litigant in the recent racial profiling case involving carding of three Black men: Peel Law Association v. Pieters, 2013 CarswellOnt 7881, 2013 ONCA 396, 228 A.C.W.S. (3d) 204, 116 O.R. (3d) 81, 306 O.A.C. 314, 9 C.C.E.L. (4th) 233, [2013] O.J. No. 2695(Ont. C.A.).

Selwyn has provided crucial legal advise to clients duringhigh risk situations such as gun calls, hostage taking, barricaded persons, mentally disturbed persons, high risk arrests and public order control in situations where there is significant public disorder, lawlessness, personal injury and property damage. Charges of cause disturbance and assault police can be pretextual racial profiling charges: R. v. Roach, 2005 O.J. No. 5278 (Ont. C.J.) (Criminal Law - Causing a Disturbance); R. v. Ramsaroop, 2009 CarswellOnt 5281, 2009 ONCJ 406 (Ont. CJ.); R. v. Taylor, 2010 CarswellOnt 6584, 2010 ONCJ 396, [2010] O.J. No. 3794 (Ont. CJ.)

Selwyn was co-counsel in the world's first-ever sexual HIV transmission murder trial of Johnson Aziga in Hamilton, Ontario. See, for example, R. v. Aziga, 2008 CanLII 39222 (ON S.C.); R. v. Aziga; 2008 CarswellOnt 4300 (ON S.C.) and R. v. Aziga, 2008 CanLII 29780 (ON S.C.)

Selwyn argued on racial profiling includes: R. v. Steele, 2010 ONSC 233 (ON S.C.) and R. v. Egonu, 2007 CanLII 30475 (ON SC) - Driving while black and R. v. Bramwell-Cole [2010] O.J. No. 5838 (ON S.C.) - walking while black.

Selwyn has acted in exclusion cases at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada: See, Song Dae Ri (Re) 2003 CarswellNat 4527; (2004) 36 Imm. L.R. (3d) 203; Liang (Re) 2002 CarswellNat 4719; 33 Imm. L.R. (3d) 251.

Selwyn has appeared in  Coroners' Inquest including: Coroner's Inquest into the Death of Negus Topey (May 02, 2005, Coroners' Court, Dr. K.A. Acheson) Ruling on Application for Standing; Coroner's Inquest into the Death of Dwight Haughton (Coroners' Court, Dr. Evans) Ruling on Application for Standing; Coroner's Inquest into the Death of Jeffrey Reodica(May 04, 2006, Coroners' Court, Dr. B. Porter) Ruling on Application for Standing

Selwyn also acted as co-counsel with C. Nigel Hughes for the families of three deceased persons killed during a civil demonstration in Linden, Guyana, at the Linden Commission of Inquiry. Selwyn is currently co-counsel with Brian M. Clarke representing the Guyana Trades Union Congress in the Walter Anthony Rodney Commission of Inquiry in Georgetown, Guyana.

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