A Toronto bar owner with a criminal past says that police are targeting him for crimes he didn’t commit, to the point where six officers recently arrested him and accused him of stealing liquor.
Almost 15 years ago, Michael Flaxman spent three years in prison for robbing 30 banks over a period of 100 days to fuel his cocaine and heroin addiction. He was then known as the 'Bicycle Bandit,' as he often pedalled away from the scene.
Flaxman says he overcame addiction issues 10 years ago and has turned his life around since leaving prison.
Yet he finds himself still having problems with police.
"Since my release from prison, they’ve tried to charge me with 17 felonies that I didn’t commit," Flaxman told CBC News in a recent interview.
When the officers arrived at his Dupont Street bar, Boo Radley's Junction Bar and Grill, earlier this month, Flaxman said that they showed him a search warrant and put him in handcuffs in front of his customers.
Flaxman said police told him that they had video of him breaking into several bars and stealing liquor.
"There was no evidence, I didn’t look anything like the guy in the picture," Flaxman said. "My greatest fear is to be wrongfully accused and incarcerated for something that I did not do."
His wife, Shelly Ashbury, was present when police also searched the couple’s home.
"Profiling people on the basis of what they look like, or what their rap sheet looks like, or suspicions like that, it’s damaging," Ashbury said.
Flaxman said that police let him go after five hours of questioning. He has been told that he is not facing any charges.
But the experience has left him wondering what to do if he ever needs the police.
Police told the CBC’s Michelle Cheung that they are looking into the events that led up to Flaxman’s recent arrest.
They say they will have answers later this week.