Former Cambridge woman alleges racial profiling by officer

Racial Profiling

MAY 24, 2019

by Liz Monteiro

Black woman alleges police unlawfully arrested her because of the colour of her skin

CAMBRIDGE — It was supposed to be an ordinary morning for Natasha Broomes — getting up early to take her son to work.
The mother of three took the same route each day, no more than a 15-minute drive from her Crombie Street house in Galt at 5:30 a.m.
She returned home and was planning on going back to bed.

But as she reversed her SUV into her driveway as she always did, there was a Waterloo Regional Police officer in a cruiser at the end of the lane and a flashlight shone in her eyes.

The officer, who followed her home, told her that she fit the description of a person they were looking for. The suspect had a gun.

The officer asked her for her driver’s license.

Broomes laughed it off and walked to her front step.

But this would be no joke.

Within minutes, she alleges she was “slammed” up against her SUV. She says she was “tripped” by the officer and fell, landing face down on the ground.

The officer pinned her down by placing his knee on her back. She screamed, telling the officer that he was hurting her.

A video of part of the arrest recorded on Broomes’ cellphone shows her yelling and demanding the officer to stop.

Warning video contains strong language.

She was handcuffed and arrested.

Broomes, 42, who now lives in Toronto, says she was unlawfully arrested because of the colour of her skin.

She said she was racially profiled when Const. Jesse Foster arrested her that morning on July 29, 2017.

“As a single mom, I had this unspoken superhero inside me. It was all taken away from me,” said Broomes in an interview Thursday.

“I felt so demoralized, so dehumanized,” she said.

Broomes is suing the Waterloo Regional Police Services Board and Const. Jesse Foster for $700,000.

Two other officers arrived at her home and searched her backyard and the inside of her vehicle.

She was released and given four highway traffic act tickets. Those tickets would later be withdrawn.

Broomes went to the hospital and wanted to file a complaint against the police.

But she was too afraid to. She would take her concerns on how she was treated to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director.

The agency investigated the incident and in a report released in December found that there was sufficient evidence to show Foster unlawfully arrested her, using excessive force and that she was discriminated against because she is Black.

The agency said there was evidence of misconduct under the Police Services Act on the part of Foster, who has been an officer for more than seven years.

In her claim, Broomes said the officer told her that he would release her if she admitted the entire incident was her fault.

The claim alleges that the officer already knew that she did not match the description of the suspect — police were looking for a man — but approached her anyway.

In his statement to the independent review agency, Foster said he had a “strong suspicion” that Broomes was involved in the gun call.

The independent agency found there was no evidence to show that Broomes matched the description of the suspect and stated that Foster’s treatment of Broomes was discriminatory.

Broomes’ lawyer Davin Charney of Toronto, said if Broomes was white, the arrest would never have happened.

“It points to a persistent and ongoing problem in policing which is the culture of racism that is pervasive in police forces across Canada,” he said.

“It’s ingrained in the culture and difficult to root out,” Charney said.

“The bar is much lower when dealing with a racialized person. Somehow it’s much easier to arrest them,” he said.

In a statement to the media Thursday morning, Insp. Mark Crowell said the statement of claim has been received and is being reviewed.

“The Waterloo Regional Police Service takes all complaints and allegations against its members very seriously,” it said.

“The Office of the Independent Review Director has ordered a directed hearing on this matter; no date has yet been set,” the statement said.

Police said they would provide no further comment.

The police have filed their notice of intent with the court, Charney said.