Halifax police chief scheduled to testify in case of alleged racial profiling

Chief Dan Kinsella of the Halifax Regional Police is scheduled to testify Thursday at a police board hearing. (CBC - image credit)
Chief Dan Kinsella of the Halifax Regional Police is scheduled to testify Thursday at a police board hearing. (CBC - image credit)

Halifax's police chief is scheduled to testify Thursday during the final day of a police board hearing into Kayla Borden's complaint of racial profiling three years ago.

Borden, a Halifax musician, entrepreneur and community advocate, was driving home around 1 a.m. AT on July 28, 2020, when she was surrounded by police cruisers, handcuffed and arrested.

Halifax Regional Police officers released her soon after without charges, saying they had the wrong person.

Borden alleges she was racially profiled that night because she is a Black woman, and decided to pursue a formal complaint against police "because this continues to happen to Black folks everyday … and it has to stop."

Borden said she's eager to hear from Chief Dan Kinsella when the Nova Scotia Police Review Board resumes.

She wants to know what changes have been made within the force when it comes to training for officers and the use of street checks.

"I want to know what the actual procedures are," she told CBC Radio's Information Morning Halifax on Thursday. "It doesn't seem like everybody's on the same page with what's really supposed to happen."

Officers testified in November

When Borden was arrested in July 2020, she said she was surrounded by six or seven police cruisers at a traffic light.

She said she was told by an officer to open her car door and then she was handcuffed, without being read her rights or knowing why the arrest was taking place.

When she asked what was happening, an officer told her "we'll see in a second," Borden said.

"I was frustrated. I was confused.," she said. "I was actually furious because of all the excuses they made."

MNEO Designs
MNEO Designs

The board heard testimony in November from two officers who were involved in the arrest — Const. Jason Meisner and Const. Scott Martin. They said they believed Borden's vehicle matched the description of a vehicle that had fled a traffic stop in Bedford.

Martin testified the only information they had was that they were looking for a dark-coloured sedan, possibly a black Pontiac, that was driving without lights. Officers heard the car had a temporary permit and the driver was wearing a baseball cap.

Meisner started following Borden's car and a roadblock was set up.

But moments after Borden was arrested, another officer arrived and said they had the wrong vehicle.

Martin said he immediately apologized to Borden and removed the handcuffs.

Lawyer argues it was more than a mistake

An internal investigation into Borden's complaint determined that the officers had made a mistake, but it concluded there was no wrongdoing.

Borden's lawyer Asaf Rashid said he doesn't buy that.

He argues it was an unlawful stop because officers had information they could have used to determine they'd stopped the wrong person.

Borden said she was told that night that police were actually looking for a white male driver.

"Yet again this happens — a Black person is who the police have in front of them," Rashid said. "Even though they had all this other available information, they jump right ahead and they arrest her. That never had to happen."

Borden filed her complaint against the Halifax Regional Police in 2020 and after an 11-month delay, the Nova Scotia Police Review Board resumed hearing her case in November.

Kinsella's testimony on Thursday is expected to conclude the proceedings.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.