An Ontario judge tossed out drug trafficking charges against a couple from Whitby on the grounds that they were only stopped by a cop because the man is black.
Durham Region police officer John MacKinnon began following Beverly Ann O'Grady and Jeffrey Ferguson-Cadore after he spotted them leaving a motel parking lot on September 14, 2014, according to a recently released judgment by Justice Robert Charney.
Charney said MacKinnon became concerned when he saw a "young looking white female" driving the car with a black man riding next to her.
"He was concerned for the safety of the female driver of the vehicle because it was possible that she was a prostitute in the company of her pimp," Charney wrote. "At that point the only basis for this suspicion was the fact that the female was young and white, that the male companion was black."
Once MacKinnon ran the vehicle's license plate—and found neither O'Grady nor Ferguson-Cadore looked like they were born in 1965, as per the car's registration—he pulled them over. O'Grady told him Ferguson-Cadore was her boyfriend and that she was driving her mom's car.
Upon smelling weed, MacKinnon called for backup and police wound up finding weed, MDMA, cocaine, crack, and percocets in the car. Both O'Grady and Ferguson-Cadore were charged with possessing controlled substances for the purposes of trafficking.
But Charney ruled the stop itself was a Charter violation because it was based on MacKinnon's racist instincts.
"The police officer's initial suspicions and concerns for the safety of the young white female were based on the fact that she was seen in the company of a black male. There was really nothing more to it than that."
Charney said the stop amounted to a "very serious" Charter violation.
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