The first time Toronto police Det. Scott Aikman deceived the court, a judge denounced his “misleading” testimony and threw out a cocaine charge against a man.
The second time, Det. Aikman’s story explaining why he and his partner searched a minivan led to the acquittal of four suspects accused of masterminding an international credit-card data-theft.
Aikman “either fabricated or concealed evidence” to justify the van search, the judge said. The four suspects, charged with a total of 321 offences, walked free.
Was Aikman disciplined for his conduct in court?
“No. Of course not,” said Aikman, explaining to the Star that he had done nothing wrong.
A coast-to-coast Toronto Star investigation found more than 120 police officers have been accused by judges of outright lying, misleading the court or fabricating evidence since 2005. Many of the officers have gone unpunished.
Police who lie: How officers thwart justice with false testimony
There is so little oversight of the problem that in some jurisdictions police forces did not know judges found that their officers misled the court. Internal investigations into four cases — three in Peel, one in York — were started after the Star brought the courtroom misconduct to the departments’ attention.
Compounding the lack of oversight is a lack of accountability to the public.
Big-city forces, including Montreal and Calgary, refused to say whether their officers were disciplined.
At the Toronto Police Service, where at least 34 officers have come under fire from judges for being untruthful in court in recent years, there is little indication Chief Bill Blair considers the judges’ findings a call for change.
The chair of the civilian oversight Toronto Police Services Board, Alok Mukherjee, told the Star he is troubled by this “serious issue” and wants something done to stop the lies from eroding the public’s trust in his police force.
“If we say a police officer takes an oath of office to uphold the law, if we require that they must be of good moral character and integrity …then someone who is found to have lied or falsified their notes, can they be said to be upholding their oath? Can they be said to have demonstrated integrity?” he said. “My simple, non-legal mind says: That’s misconduct.”
The Star sent letters to police forces across the country asking how they responded to the judicial findings questioning their officers’ credibility. The reactions ranged from receptive to unaware to dismissive.
And all these people say Canada is better than America