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

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of three Sooke men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Nanaimo-raised singer Allison Crowe with director Zack Snyder on the set of ‘Man of Steel’ in 2011. Crowe performs a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah in the upcoming director’s cut of ‘Justice League.’ (Photo courtesy Clay Enos)
B.C. musician records song for upcoming ‘Justice League’ film

Allison Crowe’s close connection to director led to rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah

A 50-year-old man was stabbed in an altercation that started with a disagreement about physical distancing. (File photo)
Argument about physical distancing leads to stabbing in Nanaimo

Suspect arrested on Gabriola Island an hour after incident Wednesday, Feb. 24

A battery electric-hybrid ferry, pictured here, is expected to make its way to Vancouver Island in late 2021, says B.C. Ferries. (Submitted photo)
Hybrid ferry for Gabriola-Nanaimo route launches in shipyard in Europe

Two hybrid vessels to replace MV Quinsam by early 2022, says B.C. Ferries

G.P. Vanier in Courtenay has six members of the community who have tested positive; Island Health identified seven staff and 78 students who will be required to self-isolate. Black Press file photo
Eight sick, 108 more isolating in Comox Valley school district due to COVID-19

District says that all who tested positive did not contract COVID-19 within the school sites

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district chosen as COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

The BC SPCA is offering many chances for school-aged kids to learn about animal welfare and other animal topics. Pictured here is Keith, a three-month-old kitten seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
From pets to wildlife, BC SPCA offers animal education programs geared to youth

BC SPCA offering virtual spring break camps, workshops and school presentations

Soloman and Zev Nagler enjoy time on the beach at Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park on a summer day. The Capital Regional District is in the process of determining whether to institute parking fees at this and eight other CRD parks. (Black Press Media file photo)
CRD parks committee rejects new Greater Victoria parking fees – again

More arguments against fee hikes, pay parking at nine parks, brought forward by committee members

Most Read