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Factsheet on Police Containment of and Violence in the African Community

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Factsheet on Police Containment of and Violence in the African Community

On July 19, 1952, Clarence Clemons, a longshoreman, was beaten and arrested by White police officers in Vancouver, British Columbia. He was later admitted to hospital and went into a coma. Clarence did not make it out of the hospital alive; died on December 24, 1952. The police officers were cleared of any wrongdoing by an all-white male jury at a coroner’s inquest into the cause of Clarence’s death.[1]


On August 9, 1978, 24-year-old Buddy Evans was killed by White police officer John Clark at a nightclub on King Street West in Toronto. Evan’s killer was exonerated by a coroner’s inquest, which lasted for 11 weeks and cost the city the princely sum of $200,000.[2] A protest rally “sponsored by the Sikh-led Action Committee Against Racism” attracted between 1,200 – 2,000 demonstrators.[3]


On August 26, 1979, 35-year-old Albert Johnson was shot to death in his apartment. Two White police officers William Inglis and Walter Cargnelli were charged with manslaughter in this killing. Johnson’s killers were acquitted in November 1980.[4]


On November 11, 1987, 19-year-old unarmed Anthony Griffins was shot in the head and killed by White police officer Allan Gosset in a Montreal police station parking lot. Griffin’s killer was acquitted of criminal negligence in 1994. Anthony’s mother Gloria Augustus was later given $27,000 in compensation for the killing of her son.[5] Anthony’s killer, Allan Gosset, had a charge of racism levied against him in 1981 and he forfeited $2,000 to the victim of his racist behaviour.[6]


On August 9, 1988, 44-year-old Lester Donaldson was shot to death in his rooming house apartment by White police officer David Deviney. The killer was acquitted of any wrongdoing for this shooting death. But in 1998, Lester Donaldson’s killer was found guilty of uttering the racist slurs "apes" and "f---ing n-----s" in an internal police investigative process, which was carried out under the Police Services Act.[7]


On December 8, 1988, Michael Wade Lawson, a 17-year-old Mississauga teenager, was shot in the back of his head while joyriding in a stolen car. Two White police officers Anthony Lelaragni and Darren Longpre were charged with manslaughter and aggravated assault, respectively. Michael’s killers were acquitted by an all-white jury on April 7, 1992.[8] Several days later, over 300 people protested the “not guilty” verdict in downtown Toronto.[9]


On April 25, 1989, Denny Dias, an African Canadian officer with the Toronto police, submitted a secret intelligence report on his surveillance of 13 activist and civil rights organizations and 18 individuals from the African community. The secret police spied on groups such as the National Council of Jamaicans, Coalition of Visible Minority Women, Justice for Wade Lawson Committee, and National Black Coalition of Canada and individuals such as Dudley Laws, Ras Rico I, Dari Meade, Dr. Wilson Head, Kamala-Jean Gopie, Evelyn Lennon-Lyon (Michael Wade Lawson’s mother) and Greg Bobb. None of the individuals who were targeted by the secret police had a criminal conviction.[10]


On October 27, 1989, 23-year-old Brampton resident Sophia Cook was shot in the back while strapped down in the passenger seat of a car. The bullet that was fired by White police officer Cameron Durham temporarily paralyzed Sophia. She had taken a ride in a car after missing her bus. It was later reported that the car was stolen, but Sophia never had any prior criminal engagement with the law.[11] Constable Durham was acquitted of the charge of careless use of a firearm in 1994.[12]


On April 9, 1990, 26-year-old Montreal resident Leslie Presley was shot six times at the Thunderdome nightclub.

The three White copsJean Chatigny, Daniel Rousseau and Jean Pellerinwho were involved in Leslie’s killing were cleared of any wrongdoing after a coroner’s inquest.[13] The Sûreté du Québec had also absolved the killers.


On May 14, 1990, unarmed 16-year-old Marlon Neal was shot after fleeing a police radar trap in Scarborough. White police officer Brian Rapson was found not guilty in 1991 of the charges of criminal negligence causing bodily harm, attempted murder and aggravated assault.[14]


In May 1991, the Metro Toronto Police Association attempted to muzzle Dudley Laws by launching a multi-million dollar defamation lawsuit against him for asserting that Toronto’s cops were “the most brutal and murderous in North America”. The police quietly dropped the libel lawsuit in April 1994, although it was set for trial in May.


In May 1991, the Metro Toronto Police Association launched a public campaign aimed at silencing Police Services Board member Roy Williams, a political moderate, for his defence of Dudley Laws’ freedom to share his opinion on the police as well as his encouragement of the community to provide funds to Laws’ legal defence.[15]


In October 1991, Dudley Laws was the victim of a Toronto police, Royal Canadian Mounted Police and United States’ border police concocted immigration entrapment scheme that resulted in three charges against him for smuggling immigrants south of the border.[16] The charges against Dudley were withdrawn in October 1998 in exchange for doing 200 hours of work in the community and “no record of criminal charges” after a year.[17] It was claimed that the police spent $400,000 to $1,000,000 on its entrapment investigation of Dudley.[18]


On July 3, 1991, 24 year-old Marcellus Francois was shot in the head by a SWAT-team issued rifle in Old Montreal. The police claimed that it was a case of mistaken identity and they thought Francois was a suspect after whom they were searching. The SWAT team sergeant Michel Tremblaywho fired the fatal bullet was cleared of any wrongdoing by Sûreté du Québec, the provincial police, and two other officers were slapped on the wrist with suspensions of short duration for misconduct. Francois’s family was given a compensation of $218,269 in settlement of a lawsuit brought against the cops for the killing of its kin.[19]


On September 19, 1991, a 17-year-old unarmed African Canadian was shot by police officer Richard Moore, himself an African Canadian. The youth was shot after being apprehended by the cop and was part of group of youth who were riding in a stolen van. Two months later, Moore was charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm and careless use of a firearm for discharging a round from his .38-calibre revolver into the chest of the teenager.[20] On June 23, 1993, the cop was cleared of all charges by a jury of six men and six women.


On November 9, 1991, Toronto resident 24 year-old Jonathon Howell was shot by White Detective Constable Karl Sokolowski and left permanently brain damaged. The shooter was found guilty of the charge of careless use of a firearm, in a judge-only trial and was given an absolute discharge (essentially walked out of court without a criminal record).


On December 3, 1991, Royan Bagnaut, 21, was shot in his arm and chest by White police constable Douglas Lines for allegedly stealing a purse while armed with a knife. Lines claimed that the barrage of bullets that he fired was influenced by his belief that Royan had a gun; no firearm was found on the victim. The cop was charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm, but was acquitted in 1993 by a jury of 11 Whites and 1 Asian.[21]


On May 2, 1992, 22-year-old Raymond Lawrence was shot and killed by White undercover cop Robert Rice. The killer claimed that the deceased faced him with knife after a long foot chase, but Raymond’s fingerprint was not found on the knife.[22] Raymond was killed with two bullets to the chest. Raymond’s killer was exonerated after a month-long investigation by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU).


On January 1, 1993, Montreal resident Trevor Kelly was fatally shot in the back by White police officer Richard Massé. The Surete du Quebec did the investigation and claimed that Trevor’s killer was justified in shooting the practising Rastafarian. According to Massé his partner’s life was endangered by Trevor standing over him with a paring knife. No civilian witnesses were found to provide an independent account of the killing of Trevor by the cop attached to the Montreal Urban Community police.[23] Interestingly, police investigators of the shooting death “found a kitchen knife five feet away from Kelly's body - with no fingerprints on it.”[24]


On April 20, 1993, 21-year-old Ian Clifford Coley was shot to death by a White cop, Rick Shank, of 41 Division. Clifford was shot twice in the chest and his killer was cleared of any wrongdoing by the SIU. On March 30, 1997, Shank killed unarmed Hugh Dawson. Nine bullets were pumped into Hugh’s body within four seconds.


On August 10, 1993, 37-year-old Audrey Smith, a tourist, public sector worker and mother of five from Jamaica, was strip-searched “naked as the day I was born, on the street” [25] in downtown Toronto. Audrey was accused of having drugs in her possession and immediately handcuffed and placed in a cruiser. After being detained and the cops ignoring her assertion that she was innocent, Audrey thought that her only option was to consent to a search, presumably at a police station. Instead Audrey was strip-searched on a busy Parkdale neighbourhood street. No drugs were found on her. The names of the White cops who were involved in this act of humiliation and public violence are Constables Tracey Peters, Michael Sommer and Michael Dulmage.[26]


As if Audrey’s humiliation at the hands of Canadian authority wasn’t enough, Canadian “immigration officials ordered Air Canada to drag her out of the airport departure lounge in her native Kingston, Jamaica” in April 1994.[27] The irony of this incidence was the fact that she was on her way to attend the inquiry into her 1993 strip-search complaint. Faulty intelligence was given as the reason behind her mistreatment at the airport. A three-person panel of inquiry cleared the three cops of discreditable misconduct charges in September 1995, while carrying out a hatchet-job on Audrey’s character and reputation.[28] Audrey had this to say about the decision “Just because I stood up for my rights I have been called a prostitute, a drug dealer. They (the police officers) treated me like a dog. And now the panel is backing them. I can't believe this. This is not justice.”[29]


On October 23, 1993, 27-year-old Dwight Drummond, an assignment editor with popular media outlet City TV and Ron Allen were the victims of a “high risk takedown” by Metro Toronto police. Ron and Dwight “were ordered at gunpoint from their car, forced to kneel and lie on the ground, and their car was searched.”[30] The cops claimed that they matched the description of two African men who were earlier seen with a gun. A “phantom” sex trade worker was the source of the preceding allegation. In 1995, a board of inquiry exonerated White police officers Mark Hannah and David Smith who were charged under the Police Services Act with behaving "in a disorderly manner, or in a manner prejudicial to discipline or likely to bring discredit upon the reputation of the police force." Dwight declared at a news conference that the dismissal of the charges was an undisguised declaration of an “open season” on Black men.


On September 29, 1994, Albert Moses, 41, was killed in his room in downtown Toronto. A White cop, Jeffrey Vance, shot Albert in his face and alleged that the latter attacked his partner with a hammer. The SIU cleared the killer of any wrongdoing.


In October 1994, Arnold Minors was mercilessly dumped on by the Toronto’s police, police boosters, people from the legal profession, elements within the mass media and politicians for saying that many African Canadians do not collaborate with police in their investigations, because they are seen as “occupation armies” in their communities.[31]


On January 10, 1996, Tommy Anthony Barnett, 22, shot to death by White policesergeant Benedetto Troina in the Bathurst and St. Clair area of Toronto. The police claimed that he was unsheathing a sword. Troina fired four bullets into Tommy’s chest.[32] Tommy’s killer was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Special Investigations Unit.


On March 14, 1996, Andrew Bramwell, 24, was shot to death by White constable Andy Kis in the Jane and Finch area. The officer fired three bullets into Andrew’s lower back and one in the back of one of his thighs and an unfired Glock pistol was recovered from the scene.[33] Kis was cleared of criminal wrongdoing in the fatal shooting by the SIU.


On June 11, 1996, 24-year-old Seneca College student Wayne Rick Williams was shot to death by Kenneth Harrison (his second fatal shooting) and Gordon Hayford. Wayne experienced depression and schizophrenia. It was claimed that Wayne had a knife in his hand in the driveway of his home when multiple shoots were fired at him.[34] An autopsy revealed that four bullets entered Wayne’s body.[35] The SIU cleared the officers of any wrongdoing in the fatal shooting. But a coroner’s jury returned a verdict of homicide (does not assign blame) in June 2000 and dismissed the suggestion that Wayne was intentionally courting death when he was shot.[36]


On March 30, 1997, White police officer Rick Shank killed unarmed 31-year-old Hugh Dawson while he was sitting at the steering wheel of his car and strapped down with the seatbelt. Shank fired a total of nine bullets into Hugh’s body. It was reported that firearm’s examiner Michael Clarke revealed at the trial that the “muzzle of the pistol was about one to three inches from Dawson when it was fired, leaving powder burns on his clothing”.[37] The police claimed that High grabbed Shank’s and another officer’s guns, but Hugh’s fingerprints weren’t found on the guns in question.[38] On May 25, 1999, a jury of six men and six women cleared Shank of a manslaughter charge in the killing of Hugh.


On December 31, 1999, Henry Musaka, 26, was fatally shot twice in the head and once in the chest by Toronto’s emergency task force officers responding to an allegation that the victim had a St. Michael Hospital emergency doctor as a hostage.[39] The officers James Bremner and Chris Lussow were involved in the shooting. The police recovered an unloaded pellet gun from the deceased. Henry went to seek treatment for his son who was experiencing breathing problems. But he was told that a pediatrician was not available and a doctor would see his son in an hour’s time. This seemingly uncaring attitude toward Henry’s son’s welfare prompted the hostage-taking action.


On October 19, 2002, the Toronto Star published the findings of its landmark investigation into police racial profiling in Toronto. It obtained access to a police database that recorded 480,000 incidents of police contact with civilians from 1996 to 2001, which generated a ticket or arrest. It was clearly established that Africans were receiving racially differential treatment from the police.


The Star’s report uncovered the following racist police practices:

Most people charged with simple drug possession were free to go home, on a promise to appear in court and at a police station. Whites were released on the scene 76.5 per cent of the time while blacks were released 61.8 per cent of the time.

The difference in treatment was even more apparent at the next level of police decision-making. Of those taken to the station, blacks were held behind bars for a court appearance 15.5 per cent of the time. Whites were kept in jail awaiting a bail hearing in 7.3 per cent of cases.[40]

The Toronto Star’s investigation also uncovered the existence of the “DWB or Driving While Black” phenomenon wherein Africans were disproportionately charged for “out-of-sight” offences such as failing to update a driver’s licence or driving without insurance.” The newspaper asserts, “Police usually discover such violations only after a motorist has been pulled over. And, in the absence of any other charge, it isn’t clear why drivers involved in these offences are stopped in the first place.”

On June 20, 2006, 15-year-old unarmed Duane Christian was shot to death by White constable Steve Darnley who fired five bullets at the teenager, which made contact with his chest and arm. Duane was driving a stolen van. The killer claimed that Constable Rowena Edey, his partner, was in danger of being harmed by the reversing vehicle.[41] The SIU later cleared the police of wrongdoing in this fatal shooting in the Scarborough area of Toronto.


On February 1, 2010, a story in the Toronto Star revealed the startling but everyday reality of Africans and other racialized peoples being stopped and questioned by the police, “In each of the city’s 74 police patrol zones, the Staranalysis shows that blacks were documented at significantly higher rates than their overall census population by zone, and that in many zones, the same holds true for “brown” people — mainly people of South Asian, Arab and West Asian backgrounds.”[42] This information and others on race, racism and policing were compiled from data that covered the period 2003 and 2008.


The Star’s investigation also revealed that police racial profiling of Africans in Toronto is “highest in more affluent, mostly white areas of the city, such as North Toronto and the Kingsway.”


While Africans are 8.4 per cent of Toronto’s population, they made up over 24 per cent of the civilians who were stopped and had had their information documented on the “208 card” used by the police. Further, African boys and men between the ages of 15-24 were 2.5 times more likely to be stopped and questioned by the police than their white counterparts.


On May 5, 2010, 18-year-old Junior Alexander Manon died after a short chase by the police and while in their custody. It was initially claimed in news reports that the teenager died from a heart attack. However, lawyer Selwyn Pieter had this to say on the subject, “There was blood all over. He had a neck brace on. His eyes were black and blue. The issue of a heart attack is a fiction. It seems that he died from physical force. He was a healthy young person.”[43] The SIU, which is generally seen as an apologist body for police oppression, is still carrying out an ongoing investigation of Manon’s death. However, the Toronto Police Association has claimed that the autopsy has uncovered “no anatomical reasons for the death of the 18-year-old”.[44] The SIU cleared the cops of any wrongdoing in the death Junior.


On August 29, 2010, a Toronto cop killed 25-year-old Reyal Jensen Jardine-Douglas, an African man with mental illness. He died from multiple gunshot wounds to his body. The police dispatcher was aware of his mental health status, because it was Reyal’s family who called the police seeking help in getting him admitted to a hospital.[45] The police claimed to have recovered a knife from the scene of the killing. The killer cop or subject officer was never publicly identified and the SIU cleared the shooter of any wrongdoing on January 27, 2011.[46]


On September 29, 2010, 26-year-old unarmed Eric Osawe was killed by Toronto Police Service’s killer cop David Cavanagh. Eric was a father of two and was killed in an apartment in Etobicoke. After a two-month investigation by the SIU Constable Cavanagh was charged with manslaughter. It is just the third time that a cop has had such a charge levied against him by the SIU for killing a civilian. But one may not want to get his or her hopes up about justice being served. The killer cops were acquitted in the two other cases.[47]

[1]Lambertson, R. (2004). The Black, Brown, White and Red Blues: The Beating of Clarence Clemons. The Canadian Historical Review, 85(4), 755-776

[2]Canada: Past police trials. (1998, November 7). Toronto Star. Retrieved from

[3]Wayland, S. V.(1995). Immigrants into Citizens: Political Mobilization in France And Canada (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from  

[4]Wasun. (2008, March 20). A Short History of Community Organizing Against Police Brutality in Toronto: The History of B.A.D.C. and Beyond. BASICS Community Free Newsletter. Retrieved from

[5]Lejtenyi, P. Police on their back. MontrealMirror. Retrieved from

[6]Wayland, 1995.

[7]Traffic Tickets Quota - Another Police Department Confirms Practice. Retrieved from DiManno,R. (2003, October 1). Police union follows its thin blue whine. Toronto Star, p. A2.

[8]Wasun, 2008.

[9]Wayland, 1995.

[10]English, K. (1994, February 11). Metro police probed black 'activists' Mississauga teen's slaying prompted confidential study Laws hearing told. Toronto Star, p. A.1.

[11]Wasun, 2008.

[12]Canada: Past police trials, 1998.

[13]Death by police. (2008, August 14). MontrealGazette. Retrieved from

[14]Canada: Past police trials, 2008.

[15]James, R. (1991, May 22). Black group warns Metro police union. TorontoStar, p. A6.

[16]Charbin, S. (1996, June 24). Black activist in Toronto acquitted of frame-up. The Militant, vol. 60./no.25.

[17]Phinjo, G. (1998, October 14). Charges withdrawn in deal for Dudley Laws. Toronto Star, p. 1.

[18]Vincent, D. (1994, April 10). The man convicted as Dudley Laws’ partner. Toronto Star, p. A2. Duffy, A. (1992, May 13). Police wiretaps, fake immigrants used in probe Law’s hearing told. Toronto Star, p. A2.

[19]Death by police, 2008; Lethal force. (2008, August 12). MontrealGazette. Retrieved from

[20]Mascoll, P. (1991, November 2o). Officer charge in youth’s shooting. Toronto Star, p. A8.

[21]Tanovich, D. Law’s Ambition and the Reconstruction of Role Morality in Canada. Dalhousie Law Journal, pp. 267-310. Retrieved from$FILE/Tanovich%202.pdf

[22]Moloney, P. (1992, May 28). No prints on knife, expert confirms. TorontoStar, A. 22.

[23]Witnesses sought in police shooting. (1993, February 18). The Gazette, p. A3.

[24]Morris, Alexander. (1993, May 4). Let civilians investigate police shootings; coroner. The Gazette, p. A1.

[25]Tourist claims police strip-searchedin Toronto (1993, September 21). The Gazette, p.  A21.

[26]Briefly. (1994, April 27). The Ottawa Citizen, p. A.3.

[27]Ewener, J. (1994, May 1). Canada’s own brand of off-color humor, Toronto Star, p. A17.

[28]Police officers cleared in woman’s strip-search, (1995, September 22). The Vancouver Sun, p. 15.

[29]Mascoll, P. Strip-search woman, lawyer vow to carry on judicial fight Neighbors in Jamaica tell her of 3 officers' acquittal(1995, September 22). Toronto Star, p. A2.

[30]Quinn, J. (2002, March 20). Officers win suit against Torontopolice; Retired deputy chief's lawyer says ruling will be appealed TorontoStar, p. BO2

[31]Welsh, M. (1994, October 20). Minors sparks firestorm with police ‘armies” remarks. TorontoStar, p. A6.

[32]Rowley, E. (1996, February). Racism alive and well in Metro. The People’s Voice.

[33](2000, October 8). Pistol fell to ground at dying man’s feet; homicide. Toronto Star, p. A08.

[34]Rankin, J. (1996, June 13).  Fatal shooting is second one for officer. TorontoStar, p. A3.

[35](1996, June 15). Ontario man hit by four bullets. Globe and Mail, p. A14.

[36]Smith, G. (2000, June 10). Shooting of schizophrenic ruled homicide; Police theory that he wanted to die rejected by jury. TorontoStar, B03.

[37]Pron, Nick. (1999, May 12). Glock pistol fires quickly, trial of Toronto officer told.TorontoStar, pg. 1.

[38]Pron, N. & Quinn, J. (1999, May 26). Jury clears officer tears of joy greet verdict in shooting death. TorontoStar, p. 1.

[39]Huffman, T. (2001, May 4). Cause of death stumps jury; Inquest sheds no light on why family man took a doctor hostage. TorontoStar, p. B01.

[40]Rankin, J., Quinn, J., Shephard, M., Scott, S., & Duncanson, J. (2002, October 19). Singled out. TorontoStar. Retrieved from

[41]Rennie, S. (2006, June 20). Boy, 15, dies as police shoot at stolen van; Vehicle sped toward officer, sources say Victim didn't appear to be armed SIU. TorontoStar, p. A01. 

[42]Rankin, J. (2010, February 1). Race matters: Blacks documented by police at a high rate.

[43]Stancu, H. (2010, May 8). Family blames police for son’s death, demands probe. TorontoStar. Retrieved from

[44]Winsa, P. Police reject brutality rumours. TorontoStar. Retrieved from

[45]Kennedy, B. (2010, August 31). Police knew of mental illness before fatal shooting, family says. TorontoStar. Retrieved from

[46] Small, P. (2011, January 28). SIU clears officer in August shooting death. TorontoStar. GT 4.

[47]Stancu, H. (2010, December 1). SIU charges cop in fatal shooting. TorontoStar. Retrieved from

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Ajamu Nangwaya (Ajamu Nangwaya)
toronto (downtown)
Member since December 2010


3879 words


This is an amazing compilation of horrible systemic abuse

Thank you so much for compiling this history.

So often "incidents" are reported as singular events in which the person's racial background is of no importance. Out in Vancouver, this happens all the time with regards to police abuse and male violence against Indigenous women and girls.

Thank you for doing the work to make the systemic racism of Canadian police forces so crystal clear.

Sandra Cuffe

contributing member, Vancouver Media Co-op

Develop a comprehensive list

Greetings Sandra,

Thanks for your kind words about the factsheet.

Police accountability activists need to put our resources together and develop a comprehensive list of people who have been victimized by police violence. Many people do not believe us on the question of the systemic nature of police violence and give these agents of the state the benefit of the doubt.

A more inclusive list could be used as a part of our educational work and to build allies among the people who are the normal recipients of brute force or containment from this source.

In solidarity



I love the cartoon, Ajamu!

It's just so sad: Bodia and I used to sit around wondering why no one gives a rat's ass for the Congo and I guess when people don't care about African-Canadians getting killed left, right, and centre in Toronto, how can you expect them to lose any sleep over Congolese women in the North Kivu?

My conclusion is that people are just savages and so there's no point in hoping for any compassion and empathy from them.

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