OPP's Use of Taser on Black Man Was 'Racist' Says Judge

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The use of a Taser by the OPP against a black man was “racist” according to a judge

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The use of a stun gun on an unarmed suspect was ruled excessive use of force by a judge following a trial.

Police Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) has launched an internal investigation into actions taken by four Norfolk County officers after a judge acquitted a black man after his rights were repeatedly violated during his arrest in Delhi on July 11, 2021.

Cassell Chase was stunned twice by a Taser-type stun gun while fleeing from police.

He was then taken into police custody for 12 hours without being able to speak to a lawyer.

In a decision issued on May 31, weeks after the end of Mr. Chase's trial , Judge Aubrey Danielle Hilliard called the officers' actions during the arrest unacceptable, intolerable, excessive and racist.

She believes that the use of a Taser on the suspect as he fled from the police was cruel and unusual.

She essentially dismissed all charges against Mr. Chase, including those of obstructing police, escaping from custody, assaulting an officer, and breaching probation. /p>

“In considering other ways that could remedy the harm done to Mr. Chase […], I have concluded that there are none. none.

— Decision of Judge Aubrey Danielle Hilliard

The defendant was not, however, blameless, Judge Hilliard noted.

The day after his arrest, he punched the officer twice in the face responsible for photographing him and taking his fingerprints.

In her decision, the judge indicated that during his testimony, Constable Richard Fody used the color expression to describe the accused, and in particular, twice colored man.

“When questioned about his choice of words during cross-examination, the officer defended himself by stating that he didn't know if he was "correct" to use the word "black" to describe Mr. Chase's race.

— Decision of Judge Aubrey Danielle Hilliard

The judge also wrote that officers Leanne Best and Richard Fody, who were in charge of the investigation the night of Cassell Chase's arrest, failed to understand their obligation to inform him of how their actions had influenced his rights.

She did not specify whether she believed that this breach of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was deliberate or whether it was the result of a ignorance.

The OPP has decided to further investigate this matter following the judge's decision.

The OPP is aware of the judge's comments and takes these matters very seriously, police spokesman Derek Rogers said. We are evaluating the information and will take appropriate action.

The four officers involved are still on duty, according to Mr. Rogers.

On July 11, 2021, police were called to a suspicious-looking man who appeared to be lurking in the shadows in a residential area of ​​Delhi, a community in Norfolk County, South west of Toronto.

Officer Best, the first to arrive on the scene, approached the man in her patrol car.

The latter allegedly refused to identify himself.

Agent Fody then asked the man where he was from, to which he replied nowhere.

The suspect ran after the arrival of two other police officers.

The four officers started the pursuit — three on foot , one by car.

Officer Fody asked the man to stop running, and when he wouldn't, Fody used his Taser, followed by a second use electroshock weapon — an act Judge Hilliard called excessive force.

“This violation is particularly egregious in my view because the use of force involved a CEW in a situation where Mr. Chase was alone, unarmed and facing at least four fully armed police officers. in the street, late at night.

— Judge Aubrey Danielle Hilliard's ruling

The judge also wrote that the behavior of the officers during the arrest of Mr. Chase was shocking enough to constitute an affront to the public perception of fairness in Ontario's justice system.

With information from CBC's Colin Butler

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