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Mississauga News - May 17, 2007 - By

Court awards victim of racial profiling

A Mississauga woman wrongly accused of shoplifting was vindicated recently when the Human Rights Tribunal ruled that she was a victim of racial profiling by a Peel Regional Police officer.

Jacqueline Nassiah, who is black, has been awarded $20,000 in damages after the court ruled in her favour.  Additionally, the tribunal has asked Peel Regional Police to develop policies to prevent racial profiling.

In February 2003, Nassiah was apprehended by security at a Mississauga department store on suspicion of stealing an item that cost less than $10.

The tribunal found that Peel police officer Richard Elkington, who responded to the call, discriminated against Nassiah by "assuming that the white security guard was telling the truth and that the black suspect was not, without properly looking at all the evidence, including a videotape of the alleged theft which exonerated her."

The tribunal also found that Elkington verbally abused Nassiah by swearing at her.

Tribunal chief commissioner Barbara Hall said the case showed racial profiling and that a judgement was necessary to highlight the injustice.

"The commission is always willing to work with police services to effect change," Hall said.  "But when such change is not forthcoming, the commission will pursue similar public-interest remedies as ordered by the tribunal in this case."

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