Borden’s lawyer and board chairman discuss series of questions about systemic racism during officer’s testimony


Andrew Gough, the attorney representing the Halifax Regional Police, openly scoffed at and scoffed at the idea that denial of systemic racism within the HRP by one of its officers was evidence, in itself, systemic racism within the force.

It happened just before 3 p.m. Monday, the day the Nova Scotia Review Board opened a hearing into Kayla Borden’s appeal regarding her dismissed complaint against members of the regional police. from Halifax.

Borden, who is black, testified at the start of the hearing that she felt terrified and humiliated in the wee hours of July 2020 when she was mistaken for a white man and arrested in the middle of the night while she was coming home from a relative’s house. .

In her testimony, Borden stated that she did not read her rights, before learning that she was no longer under arrest. She said she was asked not to leave and to provide her license and registration information.

Borden said she believed the arrest was influenced by racial bias as well as systemic racism within the Halifax Regional Police.

Cst. Stewart mcculley

HRP Cst. Stewart McCulley. Photo: Facebook.

Cst. Stewart McCulley spoke just after 11 a.m. McCully, 39, joined the OPP in 2006, and returned to Halifax and joined the HRP in 2011.

McCulley said he was on duty and parked in Mount Saint Vincent when he saw a car with no license plate and no headlights driving down the Bedford Freeway the night Borden was pulled over. He followed the car, stopped next to it, and determined it was a white man wearing a black baseball cap.

He fell behind the vehicle and started chasing it at high speed. A senior officer ultimately called off the pursuit for security reasons.

McCulley said that when communicating by radio, officers are trained to give as much detail as possible about descriptions and locations, but also to be “straight to the point.”

He admitted that he described the car on the radio that night as being both “black” and “dark in color”. He said he did not describe the driver of the vehicle as white. He also said that although he had not insisted on describing the driver as a man, it was probably because he had referred to the driver as “him” on several occasions.

McCulley said he didn’t think describing the driver as a white male would have prevented Borden from being arrested because he didn’t think officers could tell who was driving Borden’s vehicle when they pulled her over for. the first time.

McCulley was not asked whether he made a point of describing the driver as black, whether he was a black driver, or whether Borden’s race played a role in the nature of interaction once it has been stopped.

He said upon arriving at the scene of Borden’s stop, McCulley said he immediately recognized it was another car, relayed the information over the radio, s’ returned and left without seeing Borden or speaking to any of the officers face to face.

Borden’s attorney, Devin Maxwell, then asked McCulley about departmental policy regarding when officers are allowed to obtain identification. Jean McKenna, the chairman of the Police Review Board, quickly intervened.

“Is the Commission telling me that I am not allowed to ask this witness if the HRP has a policy on how to correctly identify a suspect?” Maxwell asked.

Maxwell and McKenna then discussed the merits of Maxwell’s series of questions regarding police collection of citizen information.

“A lot of what you’re talking about relates, at least in part, to the exercise of discretion by police officers,” McKenna told Maxwell. “And we’ve heard a lot of evidence in many cases about policies. And there are many, many, many policies within the Halifax Regional Police.

“The position that the HRP takes here [is] that it was a mistake, ”said Maxwell. “The question is, why did this error occur?”

McCulley sat as Maxwell and McKenna discussed for several minutes what questions Maxwell should ask. At one point, McKenna suggested Maxwell’s questions would be better suited to Halifax Police Chief Dan Kinsella, who is due to testify on Thursday.

Gasps were then heard among the gallery as McKenna said, “We have seen so many policies, there are many policies. The police don’t study them or memorize them, and I bet [they] maybe not even able to tell you how many there are.

The exchange between Maxwell and McKenna continued.

“It may not be as clear to me as it is to you that police officers don’t know their own department’s policies,” Maxwell said.

“Barely, Mr. Maxwell. You know full well that’s not what I’m telling you, ”McKenna told Maxwell before telling him again that she thought his questions were too vague.

“If you come to the conclusion that he doesn’t know anything about, say, the practices and stopping of a vehicle… [If] he doesn’t know… ”McKenna said before pausing for a long time.

“That’s what I would like to know,” said Maxwell.

“What does it matter?” McKenna asked.

Systemic racism

Head shot of Andrew Gough in a black collared jacket with a blurred background.

Andrew Gough, Halifax Regional Police Lawyer Photo: Linked In.

McCulley resumed his testimony just after 1:30 p.m.

An hour later, Andrew Gough, the HRP lawyer, was quick to object to Maxwell questioning McCulley about the existence of systemic racism with the HRP.

Gough suggested that Maxwell ask a more relevant question as to whether McCulley had direct knowledge that racial bias played a role in the role of Constables Martin and Meisner (the two officers named in the complaint) in Borden’s arrest.

“It would be a great question if that was what I wanted to know, but it’s not what I want to know,” Maxwell replied.

“What you want to know is this officer’s opinion as to whether there is currently systemic racism within the Halifax Regional Police,” McKenna said.

“Okay,” Maxwell said. “Precisely what I want to know.

“He says he didn’t observe any racism. So what [he] will add to this? McKenna asked.

“I don’t know, I didn’t hear the answer,” Maxwell replied.

Maxwell and McKenna then debated whether or not McCulley could be questioned about the Wortley Report and whether he had personally read it. McKenna argued that questions about the Wortley report would be more suitable for Chief Dan Kinsella, who will testify later in the week. Gough, HRP’s lawyer, and Nasha Nijhawan, the lawyer representing Martin and Meiner, remained silent throughout this exchange.

Eleven minutes have passed since Cst. McCully spoke for the last time and when Gough raised his initial objection on the subject or racism within HRP.

“I think the line we go down here,” said Maxwell, “of my friends [Gough and Nijhawan] and The Board, perhaps demonstrates a lack of understanding of what systemic and institutional racism is… ”

McKenna cut him off abruptly.

“I can assure you that there is no misunderstanding within this council about systemic racism,” she said. “I can assure you that it is.”

Nijhawan then spoke.

“Before my friend speaks for me, I think it may be helpful to hear that on behalf of those interviewed, no argument will be made that systemic racism does not exist,” he said. she declared. “So the opinion of a particular officer [McCulley] is completely irrelevant. You’re not going to hear that from [Martin and Meisner]. We are not going to say that there is no systemic racism.

“No period of systemic racism, or no systemic racism within HRP?” Maxwell asked.

“My position is going to be that there is systemic racism in every part of our society, including every part of the justice system, including HRP. This is the position of the respondents. No one will say that is not true. So maybe we can save ourselves some energy by asking each witness’s personal option as to this fact, and I can assure you that in argument this respondent will not be an argument put forward.

“I guess what I was trying to achieve was, if – and, again, I don’t know what his answer is – if he tells me that he doesn’t believe there is, then for me it is a proof of systemic racism [in of itself]Maxwell said, at which Gough laughed mockingly.

The hearing is scheduled to continue for the remainder of the week at the Best Western Hotel on Spectacle Lake Drive in Burnside in Dartmouth.

A man in a black uniform speaks, gesturing with his right hand.  On the uniform is the logo of the Halifax Regional Police, as well as a badge and insignia indicating rank.  On the table in front of the man is a nameplate, a microphone and a bottle of water.  The background is gray.

Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella speaks at a Council of Police Commissioners meeting on Monday, December 13, 2021. Photo: Zane Woodford

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