By Shurtz, Delon on February 14, 2018.
A woman charged with several drug offences following a traffic stop more than two years ago has been acquitted.
Justice Rodney A. Jerke acquitted Brooke Shadow Creighton Tuesday in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench after the Crown prosecutor said he would not argue the admissability of evidence that was presented by the Crown during the trial.
Police pulled Creighton over during a traffic stop Oct. 8, 2015 and arrested her for possession of a prohibited weapon, drug possession and drug possession for the purpose of trafficking. But during the trial defence argued the arresting officer breached Creighton’s Charter rights, and Jerke agreed.
Jerke ruled during a hearing Dec. 18 of last year that Const. Roger Higdon did not have reasonable or probable grounds to detain Brooke Shadow Creighton after he pulled her over for a traffic violation. Higdon then unlawfully arrested her, unlawfully searched her vehicle, and failed to immediately inform her of her right to retain and instruct counsel.
Jerke’s ruling followed a trial in which lawyer Greg White said Higdon abused his authority and breached Creighton’s rights when, under the guise of a traffic safety violation, he pulled the woman over as part of an organized crime investigation.
Jerke said officers have the right to conduct a traffic stop for more than one reason, and can “pursue other interests” at the same time. But after Higdon stopped Creighton there was nothing linking her to recent or ongoing specific criminal offences and he should not have proceeded to investigate, or question her about, a TV on the back seat, which he suspected might be stolen but she claimed was not. That, Jerke said, went beyond the scope of the traffic stop and breached section nine of the Charter which states “everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.”
Higdon initially arrested Creighton for possession of stolen property, but failed to read the accused her Charter rights “without delay.” Then he and other officers searched the vehicle and found drugs and a pair of brass knuckles.
Creighton was arrested for drug possession for the purpose of trafficking, which, Jerke ruled, was unlawful because the initial arrest was unlawful.
“Police officers have a duty to uphold the law, and when they don’t uphold individual rights in an investigation, this court has stated that there will be consequences, and the consequences in this case was an acquittal,” White said following Tuesday’s hearing.
“Officers sometime think the ends justify the means, but the court says they don’t.”
White argued the Charter breaches during a voir dire, which is a trial within a trial to determine the admissability of evidence. After Jerke ruled Creighton’s rights were violated, the Crown no longer had a case or evidence – the drugs that were unlawfully seized – and Creighton was acquitted.
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