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

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

From left to right. Jeremy, Ryan and Mitch Hunter are all third generation owners of Excel Tire, which will soon to become Trail Tire. (File)
3 generations later: Iconic Revelstoke tire business to be retread with new name

Excel Tire soon to become Trail Tire, but is still owned by the Hunter family

Ryan Bavin of Bavin Glassworks in Invermere. Photo: Submitted
Call for entries for Columbia Basin Culture Tour

Deadline for registration for artists and venues is April 15

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

Downtown Revelstoke on March 4, 2021. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
48 COVID-19 cases in February for Revelstoke

Since the start of the pandemic roughly one out of 30 local residents have contracted the virus

About 50 people gathered Friday, March 5, 2021 in Penticton to protest city council’s decision to close a temporary winter shelter. (Jesse Day - Western News)
WATCH: Protest over Penticton shelter draws large crowd

People are gathering in Gyro Park to protest the closure of a winter shelter

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

Paramjit Bogarh, connected to the murder of his wife in Vernon 35 years ago, has been relerased on full parole, one year after he was sentenced to five years in prison for accessory after the fact. (Contributed)
Full parole for ex-Okanagan man who helped wife’s alleged killer escape

Paramjit Bogarh pleaded guilty to accessory to murder after helping brother flee Canada

The Princeton Traditional Music Festival, normally held in August, was denied a grant due to COVID. (File photo)
COVID makes some of the 2021 grant decisions for Princeton council

Municipality doles out funds while striving to meet policy

Most Read