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Dartmouth judge upholds patdown search that turned up handgun

A young Halifax man’s charter rights were not infringed when he was subjected to a patdown search by an RCMP officer during a stop at a random checkpoint last November, a judge has ruled.

The search of Rakeem Rayshon Anderson turned up a loaded, .22-calibre handgun in the front of his waistband.

Anderson, 24, stood trial in Dartmouth provincial court this spring on seven firearm-related charges.

In a written decision released last week, Chief Judge Pam Williams rejected the defence argument that the detention was arbitrary, the search was illegal and the evidence should be excluded.

Williams found Anderson guilty on five charges, including possession of a loaded restricted weapon, and entered judicial stays on two others.

According to the evidence at trial, Anderson was the sole occupant of a vehicle that was stopped by police at a checkpoint in the Dartmouth area last Nov. 2 at about 10 p.m.

The officer suspected Anderson was a revoked or suspended driver and directed him to pull over to the side of the road. After removing the keys from the vehicle’s ignition, the officer returned to his police car and accessed police information about Anderson on his mobile computer terminal.

The Mountie determined that not only was Anderson a revoked driver, but he had a “concerning history” of violence, the judge said in her decision.

The data showed Anderson, despite his youth, had had 60 to 70 interactions with police and was considered a “subject of interest” in a November 2016 murder investigation.

The officer learned Anderson was a suspect in an attempted murder, as well as offences involving weapons, threats, frauds, drug trafficking, domestic violence and break-ins, and had nine known associates with serious criminal histories.

The constable also queried Anderson’s criminal record and discovered he has done jail time. Anderson was sentenced in October 2014 to two years in prison on a charge of break and enter.

The officer testified that the information about Anderson raised “a huge red flag” for him and was “off the charts for a revoked driver.”

He said he informed his partner of the safety risk and they asked Anderson to step out of his vehicle. He said Anderson agreed to be searched and was “very respectful, polite and calm.”

In her ruling, the judge said she was satisfied that the officer’s safety concerns were “reasonable in all the circumstances.”

“(His) assessment of risk is made in good faith,” Williams said of the Mountie. “He is thorough, thoughtful and measured in both his response and his actions.

“Based on his experience as a police officer, the circumstances surrounding the stop and the information he has, I agree with the Crown that he does what is minimally necessary to satisfy himself that he and (his partner) are safe as they continue their investigation.”

The judge said society has an expectation that cases will be decided on their merits unless there is a “compelling reason” to do otherwise.

“(The constable) locates a fully loaded, .22-calibre revolver concealed in Mr. Anderson’s waistband,” she said. “I agree that this is highly reliable evidence, critical to the Crown’s case.

“Moreover, this is a highly dangerous situation. One cannot overstate the public interest in prosecuting cases involving the illegal possession of loaded, restricted firearms. To exclude the firearm and ammunition in these circumstances would indeed bring the administration of justice into disrepute.”

Anderson, who is out on bail, will be sentenced in November.

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