Resisting arrest, assaulting police justified?

(Originally posted May 18th, 2010).

In an article in the Toronto Sun on May 14th, we find the astonishing piece “If you’ve been arrested unlawfully, resistance isn’t futile: Shanoff”.  (Read here).

It appears that one Jerron Alexander, aged 24, was stopped in Toronto on August 1st, 2007.  In his car was found a “baggie” containing 27.2 grams of crack cocaine.

Jerron then “wriggled free, raced through several backyards, attempted to hide $1,070 cash in a flower bed, hopped some fences, pulled a board off a fence and ‘allegedly’ used it to assault an officer, and escaped.”

Whew!  This is one bad dude, right?

Well, not according to Ontario Superior Court Justice Alison Harvison Young.  Justice Young concluded that the police had – tadaaa!!  violated Alexander’s rights.  Not only that, but – wait for it –

“The judge concluded Alexander had a legal right to resist the unlawful arrest and there was a reasonable doubt as to whether Alexander intended to assault the officer as opposed to merely intending to escape.

“And even if Alexander did intend to assault the officer, the judge concluded, the actions taken ‘constituted a reasonable and not excessive use of force to defend himself against an unlawful arrest’.

“Unarmed and faced with an armed police officer, Mr. Alexander acted in self-defense in tearing the board off the fence and he was legally justified in doing so.”

As Alan Shanoff points out,

“There was no allegation of police brutality. There was no evidence the officer threatened Alexander.

“Yes, the officer was armed but all police officers are armed. The judge didn’t mention (conclude –JG) the officer threatened Alexander with his gun or the officer removed his gun from the holster.

“So how can Alexander or anybody in his situation justify resisting arrest or assaulting a police officer?

“The answer is simple. That’s the law.

“Suspects are entitled to resist an unlawful arrest and assault an officer provided less than excessive force is used. Appellate judges have previously ruled ‘if an arrest is unlawful, the officer is not in the execution of his or her duty and the citizen is entitled to resist the arrest.’

“Provided you don’t use “excessive force” in resisting the arrest or trying to escape you haven’t committed an offence.”

I don’t want to make this entry too long, so I suggest you take a good look at the full article, which can be found here:

And while doing so, have a look at the comments appearing below the article.

Obviously, some people will be encouraged by this ruling to decide, simply in their own mind, that they are being arrested unlawfully and thus have every moral right to assault the police, in order to avoid arrest and the consequences of their actions.

And the actions of the soon-to-be-sainted Jerron Alexander were quite clearly criminal.

Jeff Goodall