No-knock raid by Hamilton police leads to Charter violation and dismissed case

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A woman in Hamilton, Ontario, who was arrested in a no-knock raid by the Hamilton Police Service (HPS) in 2021, has won her case after a judge ruled that the police violated her Charter rights. The evidence seized by the police, which included cannabis products, cash, and psilocybin mushrooms, was also excluded from the trial.

What is a no-knock raid?

A no-knock raid is a type of police entry where officers do not knock on the door, announce themselves as police, or wait for a response before breaking into a residence. Police claim that this method is necessary to prevent the destruction of evidence or the risk of violence. However, no-knock raids are controversial and dangerous, as they can result in injuries, deaths, or wrongful arrests of innocent people.

According to the law, no-knock raids should only be used in exceptional circumstances, where there is reasonable grounds to believe that knocking and announcing would endanger the safety of the officers or the public, or lead to the loss of evidence. However, some police services, including HPS, have been using no-knock raids as a routine practice, without proper justification or oversight.

How did the police violate the woman’s rights?

The woman, identified as Ms Russell, was the target of a no-knock raid by HPS in June 2021, as part of an investigation into an illegal cannabis delivery service called Georgia Peach. The police had obtained a search warrant for her apartment, based on surveillance and informant information.

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However, the police did not follow the proper procedure for executing the warrant. They did not knock or identify themselves as police before smashing the door with a battering ram. They did not yell “search warrant” until after they entered the apartment. They did not inform Russell of one of the charges against her related to the psilocybin mushrooms. They did not report the evidence they seized or provide a copy of the warrant to Russell.

The police also failed to explain why they chose to use a no-knock raid, despite having no information that Russell was armed, dangerous, or likely to destroy evidence. The police admitted that they had no safety or weapons concerns, and that they used no-knock raids over 90% of the time.

The judge, Justice Andrew Goodman, found that the police violated Russell’s rights under section 8 (unreasonable search and seizure) and section 10 (right to counsel) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He also found that the police acted with “cavalier disregard” for the law and the Charter, and that their conduct was “egregious” and “shocking”.

What was the outcome of the case?

Justice Goodman decided to exclude the evidence seized by the police from the trial, as it was obtained in a manner that infringed Russell’s Charter rights. He also dismissed the charges against Russell, which included possession of cannabis for the purpose of trafficking, possession of proceeds of crime, and possession of psilocybin.

The judge said that admitting the evidence or allowing the prosecution to proceed would bring the administration of justice into disrepute, and that the police needed to be deterred from abusing their power and violating the rights of citizens.

This is not the first time that HPS has been found to violate Charter rights with no-knock raids. In 2019, another judge ruled that HPS violated the rights of a man who was arrested in a similar raid, and excluded the evidence of cocaine and firearms that the police seized.

HPS has made some changes to its no-knock policy in late 2023, including training officers on Charter rights and requiring more documentation and approval for no-knock warrants. However, some critics, such as Russell’s lawyer Kim Schofield, argue that more oversight and accountability are needed to prevent further violations and abuses.

Category: Crime and Justice

Meta Description: A woman in Hamilton, Ontario, who was arrested in a no-knock raid by the police in 2021, has won her case after a judge ruled that the police violated her Charter rights.

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By Ethan Mitchell

Ethan Mitchell is the visionary founder of CBD Strains Only, a leading online platform dedicated to providing premium CBD products and information. With a passion for holistic wellness and a deep understanding of the benefits of CBD, Ethan's mission is to empower individuals to enhance their well-being through high-quality CBD strains.

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