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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Arzeena Hamir, working her booth at the Comox Valley Farmers Market. LUSH Valley was recognized last month as a partner of the year by the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets. Photo by Bill Jorgensen
LUSH Valley recognized for collaboration with Comox Valley Farmers’ Market

They won Partner of the Year award by the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets

Chelsea Harry was last seen Feb. 21. Photo via Comox Valley RCMP
Comox Valley RCMP seeking help locating a missing woman

Missing person last seen in Courtenay on Feb. 21

A Coast Range Cannabis store has been approved for the Crown Isle Shopping Centre in Courtenay. Photo submitted
Courtenay council approves seventh cannabis retailer

Coast Range Cannabis to open second store in the Comox Valley

A map of the Village Forest Lands near Cumberland. Image, Village of Cumberland
Cumberland adopts forest management direction statement

Less detailed than full plan, documents sets out decision-making for village-owned land

Gp Vanier in Courtenay. Circa 2018. Photo courtesy Comox Valley Schools
Another COVID exposure alert for Vanier Secondary in Courtenay

Island Health has sent another exposure alert to parents of students attending… Continue reading

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

The City of Duncan will implement a new pilot project targeting vandalism this spring. (File photo)
Graffiti trouble? Duncan will give you the brush and the paint to remove it

Initiative based on a successful project to protect Port Alberni from unwanted spray paint

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

This was the scene outside North Saanich’s Parkland Secondary School after an attempted but unsuccessful break-and-enter into the school torched an ATM inside of it. Sidney/North Saanich RCMP did not make any arrests and currently lack suspects as the investigation continues. Members of the public who may have witnessed something or possess other information can contact police at (250) 656-3931 or to Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS. (Submitted)
Money to burn: burglars torch North Saanich high school ATM

Police dogs searched the exterior and interior of the school after early morning break-and-enter

The first of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s long-range maritime patrol aircraft—the Dash-8—becomes operational. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s new De Havilland Dash-8-100 long-range surveillance air craft is capable of staying aloft for eight to 10 hours for a variety of missions up and down the B.C. coast. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
New plane will double DFO’s surveillance capacity in B.C.

The Dash-8 will fly out of Campbell River for enforcement, conservation missions

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

Most Read