Francis Caravaggio was a drug trafficker. Apparently someone he knew didn't like him that much and decided to tip off the police. The tip led to his arrest. At trial he challenged the arrest on the basis that the officer did not have sufficient grounds and accordingly his arrest was contrary to section 9 of the Charter. The trial judge dismissed the motion. Caravaggio appealed. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal: 2012 ONCA 248.
In dismissing the motion the court offered the following analysis of the officer's grounds:
The officer had information from an unnamed informant that the appellant was selling drugs from his vehicle. The informant had been used by the officer on prior occasions and had provided reliable information. The informant was known to be involved in the drug subculture. He provided details as to the description of the appellant, the colour and specific make of the appellant's car and the appellant's residence. The police officer corroborated that information by running a CPIC check to determine the appellant's identification and address and by going to a location near the appellant's residence where he observed a man whose appearance corresponded to the information he had been given in the car described by the informant. The car was parked in an alley near a cafe known for drug-dealing. The motor of the car was running and a male person was leaning through the window of the car speaking to the appellant [para 4].
The court held that this was a "sufficient basis for the trial judge to find that the officer had reasonable and probable grounds to arrest the appellant" [para 5].
There is no basis in the trial record for this submission [of racial profiling] which, as indicated above, was made for the first time on appeal. It is unfair to those who are the target of this serious allegation to raise it for the first time on appeal. In addition, advancing a claim of racial profiling where it is so obviously devoid of merit tends to trivialize a matter of serious concern within the community. [Emphasis added].
Once it is determined that the H.T.A. grounds for the stop were not a mere ruse, and that the police genuinely acted, at least in part, on the basis of the expired val tag, it becomes very difficult to establish racial profiling. As Morden J.A. put it in Brown, supra, the burden on the accused is to establish on a balance of probabilities "that there was no articulable cause for the stop" or that the H.T.A. grounds were "a pretext for a racially motivated stop", as Doherty J.A. put it in Peart, supra. On the facts of the present case, the "extra interest" that motivated the police to stop the Cadillac was the possible association of the car to criminal gang members. As in Brown v. Durham Regional Police Force, the racial make-up of the possible criminal gang associates does not appear to have been a factor. Whether they were black or white, the possibility of gang associations was a perfectly good reason to show some "extra interest" in the car. [Emphasis added].
It's the troubling aspect of how the courts perceive their mission in weighing evidence put before them through the professional conduct of police, coming to the unwarranted conclusion that as a result of imputed behavioural misdemeanors, that evidence is to be set aside that should concern us. The police doing their professional best and the courts insisting on leniency based on political correctness.
OFFICER FERRIE: I stated the reason for my stop, I’m just checking documents and ensuring that he’s allowed to be in the vehicle. I asked him who owned the vehicle and he stated his — his mother did.
The targeting of the driving population coming out of bars over the holiday season is entirely consistent with the purpose of RIDE programs, which is to detect, deter, and reduce drunk driving. By concentrating on a location such as a bar where there is a higher probability of detecting drunk drivers, P.C. Haramis was not only performing his lawful duty but he was also minimizing the inconvenience to the general motoring public. In other words, by zeroing in on those leaving drinking establishments, the officer's conduct was far less random than setting up at an intersection and stopping all drivers [para 9] [emphasis added].