'They aren’t going to lie on radio': Lawyer says police dispatch recordings
should be released to defence
Leo Russomanno said he routinely needs to fight for the radio transmissions that
he says can be critical in establishing whether police had grounds for making an
January 29, 2016
Jean Levac / Postmedia
An Ottawa defence lawyer says that police radio recordings like the ones that
helped lead to criminal charges against four Toronto police officers for perjury
and obstruction of justice should be routinely released as part of the evidence
Leo Russomanno said he routinely needs to fight for the disclosure of police
radio transmissions that he says can be critical in establishing whether police
had reasonable grounds for making an arrest or conducting a traffic stop. He
says he has had acquittals after being able to cross-examine officers about what
is, or isn’t, on dispatch recordings.
“It’s clearly relevant. These are cops talking to each other, it’s raw, they
aren’t going to lie on radio when they are talking to each other because they
are on duty and doing what they have to do. It’s clearly the best evidence you
have when it comes to a Charter case and you are talking about the reasons for a
stop,” said Russomanno.
Recordings of radio transmissions also played a role when a judge concluding
Toronto police lied and planted heroin in the car of a man they stopped.
In that case, an officer testified that he heard another officer call in the
plate of Nguyen Son Tran and recognized it from an earlier heroin arrest. But
when the defence produced recordings of the calls, it showed that Tran’s license
plate had never been radioed in. The absence of radio transmissions, and other
evidence supporting collusion on the part of the officers, led the judge to toss
the heroin out of evidence and stay the charges.
On Thursday, four Toronto officers in the case were charged with perjury and
obstruction of justice.
Russomanno said when he requests police calls, prosecutors insist he bring an
application and schedule a court hearing. After preparing the application and
scheduling up to a day’s worth of court time, the Crown has consented to the
release of the radio recordings, usually at the last minute, Russomanno said.
“Every time I ask for it, (prosecutors) tell me I have to bring an application
and I’ve never once had to argue it, they consent on the day of. I think it’s
because they don’t want a decision going against them,” said Russomanno. “It’s
A spokesman for the provincial Crown attorney’s office said the prosecution has
a duty to disclose to the defence all material that is relevant and any material
that could reasonably be useful in making a full defence. However, in some
cases, it may be necessary for an application to be brought to determine the
relevance of materials held by police or the prosecution.
“Crown counsel has an ongoing disclosure obligation and must continually assess
the relevance of evidence both in relation to the charge itself, and to the
defences that are reasonably possible, or that may become reasonably possible,”
Ministry of the Attorney General spokesman Brendan Crawley wrote in an emailed
response to questions.
It’s clearly the best evidence you have when it comes to a
Charter case and you are talking about the reasons for a stop
Ottawa police, who provide the recordings to the Crown’s office, did not
immediately respond to questions on the issue.
Russomanno believes that the prosecution should just make the radio recordings
available as a matter of course in cases involving Charter issues.
“In appropriate cases when you are talking about officers and grounds for
detention, where there are multiple officers involved, yeah, I think (it should
be part of the regular disclosure),” he said.
A rare example of when "rotten cops" actually get charged. Convictions are
another even rarer story.
In Ottawa, the Ottawa Police is one of Canada's largest Criminal Organizations.
Their chief of police and supervising
officers are effective sergeants at arms of the Nation's largest criminal
organization where obstruction of justice and
fabrication of evidence are all part of a days work.
Van T. Nguyen No. 952 fabricated evidence, and to
protect him, Samuel Wayne Smith No. 880 did the same. Then knowing that the
other two officers fabricated evidence,
Der Zander No. 1639, did the same.