Supreme Court to rule on whether Calgary police used unreasonable force

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Ottawa – On Friday, July 30, the Supreme Court of Canada will release its decision in R. v. Cornell. The Court will determine if the Calgary Police Department used unreasonable force when they broke down the door of Lorraine Cornell’s home in 2005 while executing a search warrant. The BCCLA was an intervener in the case.

The appeal was brought by Jason Cornell. Mr. Cornell lived in his mother Lorraine’s home, along with his brother, Robert, and 17-year-old sister. Police suspected that Jason was involved in a dial-a-dope operation and executed a search warrant at his mother’s home.

Without first announcing themselves, the Calgary Police Service’s armoured Tactical Enforcement Unit used a battering ram to break down Ms. Cornell’s door and then charged in with guns drawn and faces covered by ski masks. Instead of finding Jason, police came upon his mentally challenged brother Robert. Police handcuffed Robert, and left him terrified and lying prone while they continued to break down doors in the house. Police arrested Jason Cornell at his place of work later that evening.

The BCCLA argued that the police’s storm trooper-style tactics ran afoul of Charter prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures and broke the centuries old ‘knock and announce’ rule. In order to protect the safety of the public and police alike, police should be required to announce their presence and wait a reasonable time before forcing entry into a citizen’s home, except in unusual cases. BCCLA was represented by Daniel Webster, Q.C. and Ryan Dalziel of Bull, Housser and Tupper LLP. The argument of the case can be read here.

What: BCCLA comment on Supreme Court of Canada decision

When: Decision released Friday, July 30, 2010 at 9:45 (EST). Comment available before
and after decision.

Where: The decision will be made available on the Supreme Court of Canada’s website
after 9:45 a.m.(EST):

Who: Ryan Dalziel, counsel for the BCCLA, and Grace Pastine, Litigation Director of the
BCCLA, will be available for comment at the numbers below.

Ryan Dalziel, Counsel for the BCCLA: (604) 641-4881
Grace Pastine, BCCLA Litigation Director: [email protected] or (778) 241-7183