Const. Dameian Muirhead, Chantal and Guardians. president, Keith Hassell.
Const. Dameian Muirhead, Chantal and Guardians. president, Keith Hassell.

Black officers seek apology after being cleared of allegations

By Admin Wednesday November 05 2014 in News
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By TOM GODFREY


A Vaughan couple who are constables with York Regional Police say they are awaiting an apology from the force after being cleared of harassment and other allegations in a racially-charged case that has been ongoing for three years.

 

Const. Dameian Muirhead, 33, and his wife, Chantal, 32, who are originally from Jamaica, have more than 20 years of service between them on the force. They claim their lives were shattered in what their lawyer called a case of “reverse racial profiling”.

 

A 2011 incident involving Dameian led to charges against him that were withdrawn, allegations by both sides and a lawsuit being filed against the force.

 

Chantal was only this week granted a transfer to another York police division due to the high stress level that she is undergoing.

 

“I can’t wait,” she told Share of the move. “Hopefully, I will get a new start.”

 

Chantal was cleared of wrongdoing this year in a workplace harassment investigation stemming from false accusations by a sergeant that she was using sick time to travel to a vacation property in Jamaica.

 

The female sergeant, who was her boss, is accused of violating privacy laws by allegedly calling border officials to obtain Chantal’s travel records.

 

Chantal has since filed a complaint against the sergeant to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. She is trying to have the sergeant disciplined under the Police Services Act.

 

The investigation also found the sergeant had spoken ill of Chantal and falsely accused her of infidelity.

 

The report, which was prepared last July with a copy provided to Share, said the false allegations were sent to more than a dozen senior officers.

 

“It has been a very stressful time for us,” said Chantal. “The report states my career and reputation have been damaged.”

 

York Deputy Chief Andre Crawford in an August 8 letter to Chantal said a police Harassment Review Committee agreed that harassment had taken place and recommends mediation between Chantal and the sergeant, which has not yet taken place.

 

Chantal suspects she was dragged into litigation against the force as a result of Dameian’s fight to clear his name.

 

Dameian filed a $15 million lawsuit against the force last July alleging “humiliation and embarrassment” for the way his complaint was handled. The case is before the courts.

 

“We are not going to give up and go away,” he told Share. “We will do whatever it takes to clear our names and our reputations in the community.”

 

Dameian Muirhead said a lack of action by York police on the recommendations of the harassment report forced them to go public with the shoddy treatment that they are receiving.

 

His problems began in 2011 after he and his partner, who is White, responded to a call to investigate a rowdy Aurora bush party. During the investigation, someone in the crowd called out: “I would love to see that guy hanging from a tree,” referring to the Black officer.

 

Muirhead said he was yelled at and taunted by drunken men hurling racial slurs. However, he refused to engage with them. But one of the men at the party filed a complaint against him, which led to the laying of Police Services Act charges against him.

 

He was accused of insubordination, discreditable conduct and neglect of duty for not investigating the racial taunts against him during the bush party.

 

Those charges were withdrawn by the force this year.

 

The couple sought help, and are now members of Toronto Guardians for Unity, Peace, & Justice Inc., a fraternity of law enforcement officers that offers a legal support program.

 

Guardians president, Keith Hassell, said Chantal is the vice-president of the Toronto chapter and Dameian is a Sargent at Arms.

 

“Everyone needs to take a real look at how this situation is being covered up by the powers that be,” Hassell told Share. “This is a situation where you have Chantal Muirhead serving the citizens under the present conditions of high stress.”

 

York Regional Police have refused to comment on the case due to ongoing litigation.

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