For the second time in less than two weeks, Ontario’s top court has overturned a drug conviction after concluding Ottawa police officers seriously violated the rights of a suspect.
Eneida Pino was convicted of possession for the purpose of trafficking after Ottawa police seized 50 marijuana plants from the trunk of her car following a dramatic takedown in June 2010. The officers had been following Pino, a 43-year-old cleaning lady, after watching her leave a house on St. Claire Avenue that they suspected to be a marijuana grow operation.
Pino and a man who was in the car with her described during the trial how an “aggressive” officer wearing a balaclava and police vest blocked the path of their car, shouted and pointed a gun at them. The officer in question denied that he had pulled his handgun — a claim that judge David Paciocco concluded was a lie.
Both Pino and McGuffie were represented by Ottawa lawyer Howard Krongold.
“Both of these cases involve police misconduct so serious that the Court of Appeal felt that it had the potential to bring the administration of justice into disrepute,” said Krongold.
“In both cases the trial judges were limited by the evidence before them, but it is interesting to note that in each case the trial judge found there was no evidence of a systemic problem. I think it’s fair to ask how many ‘isolated incidents’ there must be before we acknowledge that there may be a problem with how police are trained, and with the policing culture at work in our city.”