Just before Christmas, an Ontario judge gave Shaquane Stewart a most unbelievable gift. Despite his tossing a loaded handgun into a school yard while on the run from Toronto Police on his 19th birthday, Justice Jill Copeland said she was required to consider the social context of anti-Black racism and as a result, gave the young Black first offender a conditional sentence of two years less a day rather than sending him to prison.
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Copeland, now a judge on the Ontario Court of Appeal, said she was satisfied a conditional sentence “would not endanger the community. ”
So much for misplaced confidence in rehabilitation.
On Feb. 3, less than two months later, Stewart, 23, was arrested outside his probation office — and it sure doesn’t look like he took advantage of the chance he’d been given. Police allege he was packing a concealed and loaded Glock 17 5th Generation pistol equipped with a functioning laser pointer and extended high-capacity magazine containing five 9mm bullets, with one bullet in the chamber.
“The facts of this case are almost too outrageous to believe,” says Toronto Police Association president Jon Reid, “but sadly this is the day-to-day reality for our members who dedicate time and energy to investigating, arresting, and charging those who carry loaded firearms in our communities.
“The conditional sentence was frustrating enough for our members but to arrest the same person, with another loaded firearm, after just six weeks is not only an insult to the work they do but an affront to the notion of community safety.”
— Michele Mandel in Outrage as gunman rearrested just weeks after judge gave him a break