Ottawa cop acquitted of impaired driving because of arresting Mounties' bad note taking
FIRST POSTED: THURSDAY, JULY 14, 2016
Charges of impaired driving and refusing a breath test against an Ottawa police officer have been dropped after a judge ruled the Mountie who arrested her caused “profound” violations of her charter rights.
The judge also criticized the “atrocious” and “abysmal” note-taking by the four RCMP officers involved in the arrest of the off-duty Ottawa officer, Marie-Josée Seguin, in the early hours of May 7, 2014.
“The extent of the failure of all four officers to comply with their own force’s notetaking requirements is astounding and disturbing,” Justice Allan Letourneau wrote in his 70-page ruling, delivered Wednesday in an Ottawa court.
Seguin was pulled over at about 2 a.m. by RCMP Const. Gary Lee after he saw her enter the Queensway at the Isabella Street on ramp.
He testified that she was weaving on the road and smelled of alcohol when he talked to her at the roadside. Three other RCMP officers also arrived on the scene. Though the RCMP don’t have jurisdiction on Ontario highways, Letourneau agreed that Lee did have authority under common law to stop her since he believed she posed a threat to public safety.
But that was about the last good thing the judge had to say about the Mounties’ handling of the case. The RCMP didn’t have the equipment to do a roadside screening test — a machine that gives a simple pass, fail or warning reading — so Lee opted to arrest Seguin to force her to undergo a breathalyzer test at the OPP station in Kanata (the RCMP didn’t have a breathalyzer of their own.)
In doing so, Lee turned down offers of help from the OPP and Ottawa police to use their screening device because, Letourneau ruled, he didn’t want to lose control of the arrest to another police force.
Though Lee testified that he believed Seguin was drunk because she was slurring her words, he didn’t make any mention of that in his notebook, a failure the judge soundly rebuked. Nor did he ask her what she had been drinking or at what time she’d had her last drink.
“The magnitude of the basic and important information that he failed to document in his notes is astounding and troubling,” Letourneau wrote.
Seguin was given a phone and allowed to call a lawyer from the backseat a police cruiser, but Lee interrupted the conversation three times, finally ordering her to end the call after about 35 minutes. Lee never spoke to the lawyer himself to outline the charges Seguin faced as would be the usual police practice.
The “gross mismanagement” by the officers and cutting off the call “constitute a serious violation” of Seguin’s charter rights, the judge ruled.
“Despite Cst. Lee’s personal involvement in upwards of 100 impaired driving investigations … it is extremely evident that Cst. Lee was poorly trained and ill-equipped to properly deal with this investigation,” Letourneau wrote.
Both charges against Seguin were dismissed.
“What the case came down to was he had grounds to stop her and continue his investigation, but everything fell off the cliff for him,” said Michael Edelson, Seguin’s defence lawyer. “It is an extremely strong indictment of the way they conducted their investigation as RCMP officers.”
Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre
Judges take care of police in Ottawa and letting cops off is part of the course.
The Ottawa Police engage in charter violations on a habitual basis, fabrication of evidence NOT to charge accused persons is also part of the course.
The RCMP Officer claimed, he did not want to "loose control of the arrest to another police force?
This officer KNEW he could not gain a successful conviction and set it up to let this drunk officer off the road.
Then he "interupted" a phone call she had with a lawyer.
Now, it takes a cop to know charter rights and how to provoke another cop into breaching charter rights.
The average arrestee in Ottawa gets a 30 second call to a lawyer and does not understand the right to retain and instruct counsel which is apparently how this female cop ensured that at trial she would get off.
Now, the Judge used that breech of charter rights to drop the charges when in almost any other similar case, the charter breech would be ignored as it would undermine the public's confidence in the administration of justice, or "shock" the public.
And "shock" is what this Justice Allan Letourneau has done in an incredibly long 70 pages of justification, minimization and outright denial that will only encourage police to start their own training courses on how to drive drunk and not be convicted.
Welcome to Ottawa's corrupt justice system.
Ottawa Mens Centre