09 Nov 2021

    How To Keep An Innocent Black Man Out of Jail: Believe Him Featured

    (Photo: Toronto lawyer Pierre Bonsu)

    On June 17, 2019, 19-year-old Kibrom Fkadu made sure to take the day off from his full-time job at a warehouse. He couldn't miss seeing his heroes Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry and Masai Ujiri during the Raptors Championship parade. But Kibrom never made it to the parade that day, because he spent the night in jail. Here's what happened.

    He took a shortcut through an alley around Yonge and Wellesley and was jumped by four people. Before he knew it, he was missing one Air Jordan shoe and his sweater sleeve was ripped. Once he came to, he faced his four attackers and demanded his shoe back. They wanted the other shoe, and one of them came at him with a knife. Kibrom wrested the knife away from his attacker. Astonished, his attackers started running away, but Kibrom gave chase and caught up to one of them, a tall blonde man.

    At some point, Kibrom was tackled to the ground without warning by Detective Sergeant Stacy Gallant. Gallant and his colleague Inspector Michael Patterson questioned Kibrom. He told them exactly what happened, that he had been robbed. Inspector Patterson then called 911 to inform headquarters about a stabbing. By this time, the white man ran off. Patterson then told Kibrom that both he and Gallant had seen him stab the tall blonde man and that he was going to be arrested. Kibrom was charged with aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose. Kibrom was dejected and he professed his innocence but neither Gallant, Patterson or any of the officers believed him. While his freedom was now on the line, what Kibrom lamented the most was that The Toronto Police Service had confiscated as evidence his gold ring which was an heirloom from his father in Africa. 

    As he faced the possibility of 14 years in prison, other than his family members, nobody else believed that he was innocent. Kibrom had spoken to many individuals before he came to my office for legal representation and they all had the same question ‘Why would the police lie?’ 

    He asked me then as he does now, ‘Why did you believe me when other people did not?’ I explained to him that I believed his version of events more than I did the officers’ version of events. 

    In their version of events, Kibrom was stabbing the blonde man and then Gallant supposedly said, ‘Police, don’t move, drop the knife’ after which Kibrom supposedly dropped the knife and he was arrested. This was contrary to Kibrom’s adamant claims that he had been tackled to the ground without warning by Gallant. When you consider that a few years ago, 18-year-old Torontonian, Sammy Yatim was shot dead for just having a knife, I could not accept Gallant and Patterson’s version of the events.

    A trial was set for March 1 of 2021.

    Shortly before the trial, I had Kibrom's blood compared to the blood found on the bloody knife. He received the results on December 7, 2020.

    Thanks to the assistance of Detective Richard Petrie of the Toronto Police Service, Michael Lockner of the Ministry of the Attorney General and Monica Sloan of the Ministry of the Solicitor General, Kibrom's charges were withdrawn on December 8 before trial, in large part due to the fact that the DNA result indicated that all of the blood on the knife belonged to Kibrom. In fact, the blood on the knife was 3 trillion times more likely to be Kibrom’s than anyone else’s on the planet. 

    In reality, the detectives only saw Kibrom confronting the white man and asking for his shoe back. They saw the bloody knife and Detective Gallant tackled Kibrom to the ground without warning. Even as Kibrom explained that he was the victim here, all they saw was a Black youth with a bloody knife and considered him guilty. Using their supreme veteran detective skills, they figured that he had cut someone. In fairness, they were 100% right. 

    Kibrom did cut someone. He cut himself.

    He cut himself when he wrested the knife away from one of the individuals that were attempting to rob him of his shoes. He was confronting one of these individuals until the moment when Detective Gallant took him to the ground playing hero, and Kibrom's assailant ran away.

    Kibrom applied to have his fingerprints and file destroyed in April 2021 and he found out in September that his application had been denied in a letter dated July 27, 2021.

    Kibrom now still works full-time and would like to work for Uber eats to supplement his income but he failed the screening process because the police still have his file open and his fingerprints have not been destroyed.

    He does however have his father’s gold ring back.  

    Read 300 times Last modified on Thursday, 11 November 2021 12:54
    (4 votes)
    Pierre Bonsu

    Pierre Bonsu is a bilingual criminal defence lawyer based in Toronto and a graduate of the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law. Prior to being called to Bar of what is now known as the Law Society of Ontario, he trained under the tutelage of a poverty law expert, former Crown prosecutor and criminal defence lawyer at a legal clinic for a year. As a result, he has previous experiences dealing with Human Rights Tribunals, Ontario’s Social Benefits Tribunal and Landlord and Tenant Board where he was a Tenant Duty Counsel.

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