Halifax police chief on Black woman who was wrongly arrested

Halifax police chief on Black woman who was wrongly arrested

The Halifax Police Chief acknowledged on Thursday that a black woman whose car was accidentally stopped by police late at night experienced “shock factor” when she was arrested and handcuffed.

Chief Dan Kinsella made the comments while testifying at a Police Review Board hearing into Kayla Borden’s racial profiling complaint in connection with her arrest on July 28, 2020.

Borden was driving home around 1 a.m. when she was pulled over by several squad cars, arrested and handcuffed before being released when an officer came to the scene and clarified that they had the wrong car and wrong person.

Kinsella was describing his force’s anti-Black racism program to the review board when he paused and addressed Borden directly, saying, “It didn’t escape me how impactful the interaction was, the shock factor.” He added that he believe the apology from the crime scene officers “came from a genuine place.”

Outside the hearing, Borden said she didn’t feel the officials’ apology was sufficient at this point, adding that black citizens would continue to be unnecessarily targeted in the absence of disciplinary action.

“It was just like, ‘It was our fault, whatever, you can go your own way,'” she said.

“As soon as I could get out of the car, they just arrested me and didn’t read me my rights. said the 35-year-old woman, who is a musician, video company owner and community advocate.

Borden said arresting officers should have checked with colleagues for more information about “who they were actually looking for” before stopping them.

She said she was surrounded by police cruisers at a stop light, ordered to open her door and handcuffed before being read aloud of her charter rights or explained why the arrest took place.

Last year, two officers involved in the arrest — Const. Jason Meisner and Const. Scott Martin – Testified before the review board that Borden’s car closely described a dark-colored Pontiac that had fled a traffic stop in the city’s west end.

However, Borden’s attorney, Asaf Rashid, said outside Thursday’s hearing that other officers involved in the initial response said over the police radio that the suspect was male and was wearing a baseball cap. Rashid said officers did not say the suspect was black.

In 2019, Kinsella publicly apologized to the province’s black community for excessive roadside stoppages of black citizens compared to white residents and for a 400-year history of abuse.

He testified Thursday that he recognizes racism persists and said he personally investigates all allegations of racial profiling made against members of his police force.

However, he said, based on the information he has heard about the Borden case, “I see no connection to the systemic (racism) issues we face.”

The chief cited his force’s anti-racism training program, created in consultation with the black community, as evidence that Halifax police are making strides against systemic racism. He said the course, which aims to eradicate racial prejudice in the police force, is not yet compulsory – but he added that it will be made compulsory unless all officers take part voluntarily.

Kinsella also testified that officers can exercise extreme caution when stopping a vehicle when a suspect has fled a previous police stop. “If you believe the vehicle fled, you will take precautions,” he said, answering a question from police union lawyer Nasha Njihawan.

The chief was the last witness to testify personally. The board set dates for final written submissions in the case, which all parties are expected to submit by the end of February.

The testing center first makes findings on suspected violations of the police code of conduct and then accepts submissions for possible disciplinary measures if violations are identified.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on January 5, 2023.

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