Toronto police arrested Nguyen Son Tran In January 2014 after finding 11 grams heroin hidden in the steering column of his car.
Ontario Superior Court Judge Edward Morgan ruled last week however, that officers knew they didn’t have the right to search the mans property so they sprinkled a small amount heroin next to the driver’s seat that could be gleamed in plain sight.
“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 said, adding that the matter constituted “egregious wrongful conduct.”
Tran said in court that while he was sitting at a red light, he noticed constable Benjamin Elliot – who had arrested him a year prior for heroin possession – pull up next to him in an unmarked car.
Tran said he pulled into a parking lot and was approached by uniformed constable Jeffrey Tout, before Elliot and his partner, Sgt. Michael Taylor, pulled up and placed him under arrest.
The officers testified they were investigating the man for allegedly running a red light but radio communications and hand written notes indicated that the reason they attended the scene was because “Elliot ha[d] investigated [Tran for drugs] before.”
The officers “had no real explanation at all for the wrong information that the two officers so coincidentally shared,” judge Morgan wrote, “It is fair to say that Officer Elliot and Sgt. Taylor were caught flatfooted by the recordings of the radio calls.”
Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash said Thursday that an internal investigation has been launched to review the incident and that the Toronto police department “takes all comments of this type very seriously.”
It is unclear if criminal charges are being pursued against the officers but Tran’s lawyer, Kim Schofield said the cops should be charged with obstruction of justice.
“This police misconduct outweighs the roughly 12 grams of heroin found by the police,” judge Morgan said. “That quantity of drugs is, of course, a serious matter; but the misconduct evidenced here is entirely beyond anything that the courts can accept.”