Judge: Police ‘murky the waters’ in Hasani Frett murder case
High Court Judge Thomas Astaphan has admonished the police for seeking to “murky the waters” as it relates to their investigation into the fatal shooting of a man on Sunday, February 12 this year.
Hasani Frett was curiously charged with murder, inflicting grievous bodily harm, and possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life after surveillance footage of the incident showed multiple masked bikers surrounding Frett’s vehicle while he and a male passenger were inside. The passenger opened fire killing one of the bikers before fleeing.
Judge Astaphan raised his concerns about the police during Frett’s successful bail hearing last Friday.
According to the judge, the investigative officer’s sworn affidavit, which the Prosecution relied on to object to Frett’s bail application, was largely baseless and speculative.
Citing the affidavit, the Prosecution argued that the “firearm (firearms)” used to commit the offence was still at large and that Frett, if granted bail, could make efforts to “further conceal and possibly destroy these/this weapon(s)”.
But Judge Asphan raised two main concerns about that argument. The first surrounds the fact that the authorities kept suggesting that there were potentially multiple guns involved in the shooting. However, based on surveillance footage captured of the incident and a subsequent ballistics report on all the spent shells recovered after the shooting, only one gun was seen and used.
The judge’s second contention was the police and prosecutor’s choice to use the words “further conceal”, which suggests that Frett had made previous attempts to hide the weapon. When called on by the court to explain how he came to that conclusion, the investigating officer said it was because Frett had removed the license plates from his vehicle to ‘hide from the police’ after the shooting happened. But Judge Astaphan said the reasoning was strikingly speculative and said it was far more likely that Frett was in hiding from the group of armed bikers that surrounded his vehicle and made threatening gestures on the night in question.
Judge Astaphan said the authorities’ reasoning only served to “murky the waters by inferring that he (Frett) had a gun/guns”.
He described the statements as misleading and suggested that they prejudice Frett. He further said that most of the Prosecution’s arguments to oppose bail were “hollow speculation” and lacked factual evidence.
In the end, Judge Astaphan granted Frett $80,000 signed bail with a $20,000 cash component.