Four Toronto police officers, including three from 55 Division, have been arrested and charged with perjury and obstructing justice, said police this morning.
The officers are alleged to have planted evidence and provided false testimony following an arrest at a traffic stop near Broadview and Gerrard in January 2014.
From 55 Division, Const. Jeffrey Tout, 41, is charged with two counts of obstructing justice and two counts of perjury, Det. Const. Benjamin Elliot, 32, is charged with three counts of obstructing justice and three counts of perjury, and Det. Const. Fraser Douglas, 37, is charged with two counts of obstructing justice and two counts of perjury. From 51 Division, Const. Michael Taylor, 34, is charged with two counts of obstructing justice and one count of perjury.
Police chief Mark Saunders said at a press conference this morning that he would be opening an internal investigation into other cases that these four officers worked on.
“What have they been involved with over the course of their years and is there potential to find any other misconduct that needs to be looked at,” said Saunders.
The charges arise from the arrest of Nguyen Son Tran on Jan. 15, 2014 and follow an investigation carried out by TPS Professional Standards Unit regarding the officer’s conduct during and after the arrest.
“We believe there was some criminal activity and now it has to go before the judicial process,” said Saunders.
Tran was charged of possessing heroin after officers searched his car during a traffic stop at Broadway and Gerrard Jan. 13, 2014 and found roughly 12 grams of the drug in the car. Those charges were dropped last September after an Ontario Superior Court ruled that Tran’s rights had been violated during the arrest.
Justice E.M. Morgan ruled that the officers colluded to concoct a false story about the events that led them to stop Tran’s car. He concluded that the officers falsely testified about finding loose heroin on the console of the car, which would have given them cause to search the vehicle, and ruled the heroin evidence inadmissible.
“If the heroin was planted on the console by the police, and was not actually left there by the Defendant, then the ensuing search was not authorized by law,” wrote Justice Morgan in the decision. “I conclude that is indeed what happened here. All of the heroin that was found pursuant to this pretext for a search is, as they say, fruit of a poisoned tree.”
The officers are scheduled to appear in court March 11.