Article by: Peter Small Toronto Star
Toronto – Suspect ‘justified’ in taking swing at cop with fence board, judge rulesDrug suspect said to have legally acted in self-defence after being unlawfully detainedPublished 16 minutes agoEmailPrintRepublishAdd to Favourites Report an errorShare Share ArticleAds by Google
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Courts Bureau An escaping drug suspect was legally justified in tearing a board off a fence to defend himself against a pursuing police officer because he had been unlawfully arrested, a judge has ruled.
Jerron Alexander, 24, was also found not guilty of mischief for pulling the board off the fence of a west Toronto property owner.
“Unarmed and faced with an armed police officer, Mr. Alexander acted in self-defence in tearing the board off the fence and he was legally justified in doing so,” wrote Ontario Superior Court Justice Alison Harvison Young in a ruling released this week.
There were no allegations of police brutality.
The judge also threw out drug charges against Alexander, who was found with 27.2 grams of crack cocaine in his car, because his Charter rights had been violated by “deliberate flagrant” conduct of the arresting officer, Const. Joseph Gladu.
Gladu “misled the court” in claiming that the cocaine was in plain view, she said. The search of the car was unreasonable, and Alexander’s detention was arbitrary, the judge said.
After he was arrested, Alexander wriggled free from Gladu and the chase ensued. Gladu alleged Alexander assaulted him with the fence board, but the judge acquitted the accused of that.
Alexander said he merely waved the board at Gladu to keep him away so he could escape.
Gladu pursued Alexander over several fences and through several backyard gardens.
At one point in the chase, Alexander tried to hide $1,070 in cash in a flower pot. He ultimately did get away and remained at large until a year later, when he was picked up on an unrelated matter.
Alexander’s lawyer, Adam Forbes, said his client, who had been in custody awaiting trial since August 2008, was “quite pleased” with the ruling.
The incident began on Aug. 1, 2007 when the Toronto construction worker was driving his car along Trethewey Dr. and was stopped by Const. Tim Barnhardt, who saw him change lanes without signaling.
The rookie officer flagged down Gladu, who was driving by, for help.
Alexander, who is black, testified that he was angry at being stopped because he thought it was racial stereotyping.
Barnhardt testified that he only intended to give him a caution.
But the officer did a computer check and found reference to Alexander’s previous charges, including for drugs and assault with a weapon. There was also a warning: “caution: violent.”
Gladu testified that he went to the passenger side of the car and asked the heavily sweating Alexander whether he “had anything that he shouldn’t.” It was at that point that he noticed a baggie of the crack on the passenger side floor, grabbed the accused and placed him under arrest, Gladu said.
Alexander provided a different version. He testified that Gladu conducted a pat-down search, then got in the passenger side of the car with one knee on the seat and looked in the back seat, then checked the glove box, looked under the console and reached up under and behind the dash before finding the baggie of crack.
Alexander testified that the cocaine wasn’t his, but belonged to a friend who had borrowed the car the night before without telling him about the drugs. The judge rejected the defendant’s explanation.
Nevertheless, Harvison Young found that “Officer Gladu misled the court in claiming that the drugs were in plain view. Regrettably, I must conclude that this was bad faith. This is an extremely serious sort of a breach