Four months after arresting and strip-searching a man because his four-year-old daughter drew a picture of him shooting monsters and bad guys, police in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont., have apologized to the young family.
In their internal review of 26-year-old Jessie Sansone’s arrest, Waterloo Regional Police said they did everything right — except their method of search.
“The results of this review have determined that Waterloo Regional Police officers acted in accordance with the law by arresting Mr. Sansone and made every effort to preserve his dignity and the safety of this community,” said Chief Matt Torigian.
“However, the review also found that due to a miscommunication in the processing of Mr. Sansone, he was subjected to a Thorough Search instead of a less intrusive Frisk Search— an oversight which we regret.”
Torigan said he and Deputy Chief Thomlison met with, and personally apologized to, Sansone for the impact his arrest had on his family.
Sansone, however, said sorry’s not enough.
“I am a forgiving person, but this isn’t just about me. It’s not just my own family. This was a whole system that crashed down on us, and it was all because of a four-year-old’s drawing,” he said. “They could have just talked with me instead. This can’t be allowed to happen to my neighbour, to another family.”
In February, the father of four was met at his children’s school by police officers, who arrested him for possession of a firearm.
He was taken to the station in handcuffs and strip-searched while his home was searched and his pregnant wife was questioned. His children were picked up at the school by social workers and taken across town for questioning.
Cops stripped Sansone naked and had him lift his testicles so officers could see under them, turn around, and bend over.
All of this started when his daughter Nevaeh, in junior kindergarten, drew a picture of her dad shooting bad guys on a classroom white board.
The ensuing conversation between the teacher and the tot lead the teacher to believe there was a handgun within reach of the children at home.
The school called family services who, in turn, called police.
Police found nothing in the home other than an empty plastic gun sold at Canadian Tire for $16. The toy was meant to propel peppercorn-sized plastic beads — something the family never had in the house.
“Although not crucial at the time of the arrest, the Air Soft Pistol that was located has the capability to fire a projectile at approximately 180 feet per second and if pointed at someone may constitute a criminal offence and could most certainly cause injury if used carelessly,” reads the police report.
Neither the school nor family services have apologized. The school board maintained it had the children’s welfare in mind because school officials “co-parent” students.
The family is trying to retain a lawyer.
Sansone will speak with Michael Coren on Sun News Network on Thursday in his first TV interview since his arrest.