Peel Police Officers Charged Following Criminal Investigation
Four Peel police officers are facing numerous charges in connection with a court decision made this time last year.
Peel police say that in May 2017, Chief Jennifer Evans immediately commenced an internal investigation into the conduct of several officers following the release of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision in R. vs. Somerville.
The decision came after charges were stayed because of allegations that officers violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and abused their power in a case involving multiple drug-related offences.
According to court documents, Lowell Somerville, who was accused of committing drug-related offences, said that officers executed a search warrant at his storage unit in All City Storage facility and stole his property.
The document says that Somerville claims the items stolen include a statue of Scarface character Tony Montana, cash and jewelry—including an engagement ring he claimed was valued at over $30,000.
"He says that it is clear from the storage facility's videotape that one of the officers, Officer Rerrie, carried the concealed statue out of the facility and placed it into his car. He says that the police were able to conceal the other stolen items so that they are not visible on the videotape," the document reads.
According to the documents, the judge said evidence suggested the officers left with the Tony Montana statue (which they claimed was a heater).
The judge said the evidence linking the officers to the allegedly missing jewellery was not compelling, however.
“I conclude from the evidence that all four officers were aware that Officer Rerrie had the Tony Montana statue belonging to Mr. Somerville under the beige covering when they left the second floor,” the document reads.
“Each officer knew that this was something that they had no right to take. Perhaps because they never suspected a drug dealer would complain, or would be believed if he did, they committed what they knew was a theft of property. Perhaps they believed the video cameras in the facility, which were being changed, were not working. They all went along with this.”
Evans responded to the ruling.
"Upon learning about the ruling, I immediately ordered an internal investigation to be conducted by our Professional Standards Bureau into the conduct and actions of the involved officers. Our officers are held to a high standard in order to maintain the trust that we have worked so hard to build with our community," said Evans.
Police say that after a "lengthy and in-depth investigation" and after consulting with the Ministry of the Attorney General's office, the four involved officers have now been charged with multiple offences.
Police say Sergeant Manuel Pinheiro, Const. Richard Rerrie, Const. Damian Savino and Const. Mihai Muresan have all been charged with one count of theft under $5000, one count of obstructing police and two counts of perjury.
All officers remain suspended and have been released by way of a Form 10 and 11.1.
They are scheduled to appear in court on Monday, June 4.