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‘A case of racial profiling’: Black Brampton teen wrongfully arrested, hospitalized

The family of a Black Brampton, Ontario, teenager is looking for answers from Peel Regional Police after officers mistakenly arrested the 17-year-old while on the hunt for a homicide suspect near Don Mills Rd and Finch Ave on Wednesday.

Global News is not identifying the victim in the incident under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

“It’s horrible, no kid should have to go through this,” said the teen’s godfather, David Boseveld. “It’s a completely gut-punching feeling. This is a case of racial profiling and this is a case of shoddy police work.”

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Boseveld said officers in unmarked vehicles from Peel Regional Police and Toronto Police Service boxed in the teen’s vehicle, smashed at least one window, fired flash bombs into the car and then dragged the youth out of the car before handcuffing him.

“It was a dynamic takedown and this boy’s traumatized as a result,” said Boseveld. “He thought he was going to die in that moment.”

Boseveld said his godson has suffered a leg injury, some cuts and lacerations on his face, and some bruising with a sore back and neck.

Peel Regional Police said the person they were looking for when they wrongfully arrested the teen was 21-year-old Kwami Garwood, who is wanted on first-degree murder charges and kidnapping charges on an unrelated homicide in July.

“Due to the serious nature of the alleged offences, and that Garwood is believed to be armed and dangerous, Peel and Toronto police worked together to make what they believed to be a high-risk arrest,” said Peel Regional Police in a statement.

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“A plan was created with the Toronto Emergency Task Force to effect the arrest as quickly as possible while maintaining the safety of the public and the officers.”

But the teenager’s family and friends are taking issue with the arrest, calling it racial profiling.

“This is extremely problematic,” said Boseveld. “You have a Black boy misidentified as a grown man — and there’s no other similarities between the suspect and this child other than black skin.”

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“Regrettably, the male in the vehicle was ultimately deemed not to be Mr. Garwood. He was subsequently taken to a local hospital as a precaution, where he was medically cleared,” added Peel police.

“We regret this mistake and the distress this has caused this young man and his family. Peel Police made initial contact with the family on that day. We have since made contact with a family representative to further discussions and offer our support.”

Peel Regional Police add that an internal review is underway to examine the events leading up to the incident.

Police also ended up charging the 17-year-old under the Criminal Code for failing to comply with a release order that prohibited him from driving.

“What was troubling for me was that this young man was later charged with an unrelated driving offence,” said criminal lawyer Christien Levien. “It appears that there was an attempt to criminalize him.”

“It’s bothersome,” he added. “If the police are going to be working within our communities, there’s a need for accountability when mistakes are made.”

The teenager’s family has now started a GoFundMe page to try and raise money to hire counsel in hopes of taking legal action against police.

“We want justice and more importantly we don’t want this to happen to another Black child,” said Boseveld.

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