Peel police retraction points to a breach of public trust
News that Peel Regional Police have retracted their earlier statement about the circumstances surrounding a lawyer's arrest at a Brampton courthouse is alarming and shows a breach of the public trust, says Toronto criminal lawyer Roots Gadhia.
“There is an expectation that the police tell the truth to the public and we hope that the information we receive about individuals who have been arrested, as well as the circumstances surrounding their arrest and incarceration, will be in fact accurate,” she tells AdvocateDaily.com.
“How are we to trust those sworn to protect us if we can't even believe their statements?”
It’s “disheartening” to see the Peel police retract their earlier version of events surrounding the arrest of lawyer Laura Liscio, Gadhia says.
Liscio, 32, was arrested and faces multiple charges after Peel police allege she “smuggled” drugs into the courthouse, reports the Toronto Star.
Following her arrest, fellow lawyers were outraged that she was taken into custody while wearing her court attire and publicly led out of the courthouse in handcuffs.
Peel police originally issued a press release discounting some of the details in media accounts of Liscio's arrest, including that she had been handcuffed while wearing her court attire.
Peel police now concede their statement was wrong.
“It has subsequently been determined that the information that was originally relied upon was in fact incorrect,” says a statement posted on the Peel police website. “Peel Regional Police sincerely regrets publishing the misinformation and the impact that it has had on members of the community, members of the media and Ms. Liscio.”
The force says the lawyer was “indeed handcuffed in her court attire” and “was escorted by both uniformed and plainclothes officers to a marked cruiser.”
Gadhia says the whole situation is incredibly wrong as the arrest never should have been carried out the way it was for the lawyer.
She notes that lawyers, Crown prosecutors, judges, court officers and police officers are considered to be officers of the court and are held to that standard. As a result, she adds, there is an assumption that those individuals and players within the criminal courts are to be provided with a professional courtesy.
Gadhia says police have powers of discretion and often chose not to arrest an individual at their place of work unless there is an immediate risk to the public.
Arresting this lawyer at court was completely unnecessary, she says.
And the fact that police provided inaccurate information to the public about this is completely egregious, Gadhia says.
“This never should have happened,” she says.