Supreme Court says Toronto police breached Charter in minority search case

The Supreme Court of Canada has sent a stern message to police over how they interact with racial minorities in inner-city neighbourhoods in a decision criticizing three Toronto officers for entering a public-housing backyard without permission or a warrant in their search for two suspected criminals.

The case of Tom Le involved some of the hot-button issues of urban policing – guns, drugs and heavy-handed tactics in high-crime areas, tactics that included carding young racialized men.

Mr. Le, who is Asian Canadian, had been chatting in a yard with four young black men on a May night in 2012, when three officers entered, demanded to see identification documents, asked them what they were doing and told them to hold their hands out. When Mr. Le appeared nervous, the officers asked him what was in his satchel. He ran off. Police ultimately found drugs, a gun and cash in the bag.

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