'Race was not a factor' Halifax police officer testifies at review board hearing
Published Friday, October 9, 2020 9:50PM ADT
ENFIELD, N.S. -- A Halifax police officer says "race was not a factor" when he arrested and jailed a Black man who was in a park with his wife after hours.
It's a sharp contrast to the testimony given by the couple who were arrested.
It happened two and a half years ago, but is now before a Nova Scotia Police Review Board hearing.
On Feb. 12, 2018 at just after 10 p.m., Const. Kenneth O'Brien was patrolling Sir Sandford Fleming Park after it closed.
It was routine.
Adam LeRue and Kerry Morris were in the parking lot and approached by O'Brien who asked LeRue for identification.
What took place is now under the microscope at the hearing.
LeRue refused to hand over his ID, was arrested, charged and jailed for a night.
Morris, his partner, was also arrested but never charged, and was released.
The couple believe police should've just asked them to leave and allege the outcome would've been different had LeRue been white.
When O'Brien was asked by his lawyer whether the request for ID and subsequent arrest were racially motivated he said "race was not a factor in this."
He also added: "I can say I'm not racist, but nobody in this room knows me. Nobody knows my character. Nobody has seen how I've led my life. I wish you could know my life better but we're not at that that point."
O'Brien testified LeRue was asked to provide his ID several times and was warned if he didn't he would be arrested for obstruction.
The constable noted LeRue was jailed overnight after refusing to sign a paper promising to appear in court.
The panel heard from O'Brien that before stopped LeRue that night, he had stopped another vehicle in the park.
That driver was white, was also asked for ID, handed it over, and left with a warning.
In cross examination, LeRue's lawyer asked O'Brien this question.
"You could go to someone in a motor vehicle that's parked there and simply say 'the park is closed, could you leave?'" said Jason Cooke, LeRue's lawyer.
"I could, but that's not my common practice," O'Brien replied.
The matter is back before the board on Oct. 23 and Oct. 27.