Four Toronto police officers face 17 charges, including nine of obstruction and eight of perjury, in an alleged conspiracy to take down a low-level drug dealer.
CityNews broke the news that the charges were pending on Wednesday after multiple sources confirmed it.
“At seven o’clock this morning, four Toronto police officers were arrested and charged,” Toronto police chief Mark Saunders said at police headquarters on Thursday.
“We will get through this and we will do our best to get the public trust back that we have lost.”
Saunders said the charged stemmed from the arrest of Nguyen Son Tran during a traffic stop at Gerrard Street and Broadview Avenue on January 15, 2014. The news of the charges come the same week that Const. James Forcillo was found guilty of attempted murder in the shooting death of Sammy Yatim, and that an officer who fired 14 shots at car in broad daylight is also facing charges.
“This has been a very hard week for the police service,” police union president Mike McCormack said at a press conference on Thursday morning. “It’s definitely having an impact on our members.”
When Tran appeared in court, police presented the case as open and shut. One officer alleged he saw a driver run a red light and pulled him over at a parking lot in Chinatown East. He testified when he approached the car he noticed white powder spilled on the console and found a baggie of heroin behind the steering wheel.
But Tran told a very different story. He testified he did not run a red light, but said he was being followed by another officer who had previously arrested him.
The drug charge was stayed after Ontario Superior Court Judge Edward Morgan found major inconsistencies in the stories of the officers that testified. Morgan found two officers “concocted a false story” and didn’t disagree with the defence that police orchestrated the stop.
“I conclude from all of this that the loose heroin was placed on the console of the Toyota by the police after their search, and was not left there by the defendant prior to the search,” Morgan ruled.
“This police misconduct outweighs the roughly 12 grams of heroin found by the police. That quantity of drugs is, of course, a serious matter; but the misconduct evidenced here is entirely beyond anything that the courts can accept,” Morgan said in his ruling.
Three of the officers work at 55 Division and one works at 51 Division.
Constable Jeffrey Tout, 41, has 17 years’ service and was charged with two counts of obstructing justice and two counts of perjury.
Constable Benjamin Elliott, 32, has nine years’ service and was charged with three counts of obstructing justice and three counts of perjury.
Constable Michael Taylor, 34, has 11 years’ service and was charged with two counts of obstructing justice and one count of perjury.
Detective Constable Fraser Douglas, 37, has 14 years’ service and was charged with two counts of obstructing justice two counts of perjury.