A Saskatoon teen has been cleared of concealed-weapon charges after a judge ruled the arresting officer's reliance on his "spidey sense" wasn't grounds enough to warrant searching him.
The boy, 16, was one of three stopped and searched on Second Avenue near a bus loop on June 21, 2010.
Police were in the area responding to a 911 call suggesting suspected gang members were believed to be in that area and needed to be moved along.
'Spidey sense, whatever that term may mean, is hardly enough to justify the further detention of the accused.' —Judge Daryl Labach
Two officers stopped the teens to check their identification.
One of the officers testified in court there was "nothing unusual" about the way the boys were acting, except for the observation that one of them — the 16-year-old — seemed nervous.
That nervousness ignited the officer’s suspicion, which he described in court as his "spidey sense," provincial court Judge Daryl Labach said in a recent written decision.
The officer's reference alludes to the abilities of the fictional Spider-Man character, who has the unique ability to perceive danger through his sense-perception.
A search of the boy’s pockets led to the discovery of a set of homemade brass knuckles. The two other teens were also found to be carrying weapons.
But other than a hunch there was something off about the 16-year-old, police had no reason to detain or search him, Labach ruled.
"[The officer] said that his ‘spidey sense’ was going off. Spidey sense, whatever that term may mean, is hardly enough to justify the further detention of the accused especially when the accused was not doing anything illegal and was not acting nervously or inappropriately but simply standing there," Labach stated.
Labach elected to throw out the weapons evidence against the teen based on the faulty search, saying it violated his Charter rights.
"Every individual must be satisfied that their right to liberty and privacy is important and that the state will adhere to the rule of law," Labach said. "Indeed, they expect the court to protect those principles because without the court to protect them, no one else will," he said.
Lebach also chided the conduct of the police in this case, saying it "cannot be condoned."