SUMMARY: GAD was operating his SUV eastbound on the Trans-Canada Highway near Banff when he was pulled over, detained and searched by an RCMP “Pipeline” investigator. The police seized several kilograms of cocaine and fentanyl from GAD’s SUV and charged him with possession for the purpose of trafficking in relation to both drugs.
Bottom Line: Patrick Fagan was successful in killing ALL charges against GAD after preliminary inquiry and before commencement of a Queen’s Bench trial by way of the entry of a Stay of Proceedings.
The police were observing vehicles eastbound on the Trans-Canada Highway near Banff, Alberta from a stationary position. In accordance with what has become standard Pipeline investigative methodology, they were watching for vehicles that matched profiles of potential travelling criminals, including drug traffickers.
When, as in this case like this, a vehicle fits a profile the police will come up with a “legitimate” reason (such as tinted windows, no mudflaps, travelling too fast, travelling too slow, travelling too close or crossing a line, etc. etc. etc.) and pull that vehicle over. Once they have the vehicle at roadside, they will approach the vehicle (usually on the drivers side as that gives them a better view of the interior of the suspect vehicle) and engage the driver in a Q & A designed to assist the police in formulating “lawful” grounds for detention, arrest and search. The driver of the vehicle is of course oblivious to the true intentions of the police as he/she isn’t informed of the true reason for the stop. Thus, the driver of the motor vehicle usually (and unwisely) engages in this roadside Q & A with the police. This is precisely what happened with GAD.
In addition to answers gleaned by way of the Q & A with GAD and observations of the interior of the vehicle, when the police ran GAD’s license plate they discovered that he had been stopped by the police months prior and that stop had resulted in the seizure of a large quantity of cocaine. Thus, the police factored into their detention, arrest and search equation this additional information.
At first blush, it appeared as though the police did have the lawful authority to pull GAD over and to ultimately conduct the search which led to seizure of the cocaine and fentanyl. The critical question (and the singular question upon which winning or losing would ultimately turn) was: Precisely when did the RCMP officer run GAD’s plate on the computer database — before or after GAD was pulled over?
At preliminary inquiry, Patrick Fagan cross-examined the primary investigator as to precisely when he ran GAD’s plate. The officer testified that he would have done it after GAD’s vehicle was pulled over. In other words, according to the officer’s sworn testimony at preliminary inquiry, the reason he pulled GAD’s vehicle over was purely traffic related and had nothing to do with the adverse police database information concerning GAD. According to the officer that information only came to light after he pulled GAD over and after his initial Q & A at roadside.
Patrick Fagan did not believe the Pipeline investigator’s testimony as to when he ran GAD’s plate but he could do nothing about it at preliminary inquiry other than tie the officer down to his sworn story. During the months extending between conclusion of the preliminary inquiry and the date scheduled for trial in Queen’s Bench, Patrick Fagan pressed the Crown for disclosure from the Canadian Police Information Centre (“CPIC”) for the precise time as to when the officer ran GAD’s plate. Patrick Fagan obtained that information and then compared it with the time on the roadside video recording of the stop. Bottom Line: The RCMP investigator ran GAD’s plate as he was following him down the highway and BEFORE he pulled him over.
Ultimately, the Prosecutors assigned to this case conceded the highly problematic nature of the Pipeline investigator’s “sworn” testimony at preliminary inquiry and wisely killed all charges against GAD by directing a Stay of Proceedings.
For those who may be interested in reading Patrick Fagan’s cross-examination of the Pipeline investigator at preliminary inquiry click here.