4 Toronto police officers charged with perjury, obstructing justice
'We will not tolerate any bad behaviour,' Chief Mark Saunders says after confirming charges
Four Toronto police officers have been arrested and charged with 17 offences — nine counts of obstructing justice and eight counts of perjury, Chief Mark Saunders told a news conference this morning.
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The four officers charged are:
- Const. Jeffrey Tout, 41, 17 years of service, assigned to 55 Division. It is alleged he provided false court testimony, and is charged with two counts of obstructing justice and two counts of perjury.
- Det. Const. Benjamin Elliott, 32, nine years of service, 55 Division. Charged with three counts of obstructing justice and three counts of perjury.
- Const. Michael Taylor, 34, 11 years of service, 51 Division. Charged with two counts of obstructing justice, one count of perjury.
- Det. Const. Fraser Douglas, 37, 14 years of service, 55 Division. Charged with two counts of obstructing justice, two counts of perjury.
"We will not tolerate any bad behaviour of any kind," Saunders told reporters Thursday after announcing the charges. "Anything that questions the integrity of the Toronto Police Service concerns me."
Saunders would not comment about the specifics of the case, but said he has assembled a special team of professional standards investigators to look at other cases involving the officers, to see if there is "any other cause of concern."
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The four officers have been suspended with pay while the case goes to court.
Saunders says that under the Police Services Act, their pay can't be suspended while the case works its way through the court system.
Mayor John Tory, at a morning news conference streamed live on CBC.ca shortly after the charges were announced, said he believes the case "will be dealt with appropriately."
"In a big organization like this, are you going to have incidents like this — sometimes in bunches — that are incidents that are troubling and concerning? Of course. The real measure is how you handle those and how you deal with those," Tory said.
The charges arise from the arrest of Nguyen Son Tran on January 15, 2014. The investigation was carried out by TPS Professional Standards.
Charges against man dismissed
Last September, an Ontario Superior Court judge dismissed charges against the man, who was accused of possessing heroin on Jan. 13, 2014.
Justice Edward Morgan concluded the officers concocted a false story about why they stopped the man and searched his car.
Morgan also ruled the officers falsely testified they found loose heroin powder on the dashboard, which led to a search that uncovered 11 more grams of the drug wrapped and hidden behind the car's steering column.
Morgan ruled the drugs seized during the search were not admissible as evidence and dismissed the charges against Tran.
Week of bad news 'an anomaly,' chief says
The charges against the four officers come during an already difficult week for Canada's largest police force.
- Earlier this week, Const. James Forcillo was found guilty of attempted murder in the shooting of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim aboard a Toronto streetcar in 2013.
- On Wednesday, a Toronto police officer was charged under the Police Services Act for firing 14 bullets into the engine block of a stopped car during an arrest in September that was captured on video.
Saunders said these incidents are not evidence of a wider problem within the force, and the majority of Toronto police officers do their work with honour and integrity.
"It certainly has been an anomaly week when it comes to our service," said Saunders. "We will get through this and we will do our best to get the public trust back that we have lost in some areas."
Police union head Mike McCormack says the officers were arrested earlier this morning and released before 9 a.m. All are scheduled to appear in court on March 11.
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