A police oversight agency says that there is evidence that a Peel Regional Police detective conducted a “biased” investigation against a cop and another man and then authorized the publication of a “fabricated” media release.
The police officer who was the subject of the investigation has been identified as Sgt. Gurdip Panaich.
Panaich was arrested in March, 2015 and charged with extortion and obstruction of justice. Another person, identified as Surjit Brar, was also arrested at the time and charged with extortion.
A news release that was issued at the time stated that an investigation into the men began after a Brampton real estate agent contacted police about false information that was being circulated on the internet that he considered to be “detrimental to his personal and professional reputation.”
The release stated that the men allegedly made “demands for a large sum of money to have the information removed.”
The charges were withdrawn several months later and an investigation was ultimately launched by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director following a complaint by Panaich.
After reviewing the case, the OIPRD determined that there is “evidence of misconduct” by the investigating officer in the case, Peel Regional Police Det. Robert Crane.
The summary of the investigation, which was obtained by CP24, states that Crane “did not have reasonable grounds” to arrest and charge Panaich and another man. Furthermore, the summary alleges that Crane was “biased” in his investigation and “authorized a fabricated press release that tarnished the reputation” of both accused individuals.
The summary says that there is evidence of misconduct under the Police Services Act, specifically with regards to allegations of discreditable conduct, unlawful or necessary exercise of authority and neglect of duty.
It should be noted that Crane has not been charged under the Police Services Act at this point, though Peel Regional Police say that they are reviewing the OIPRD report.
‘Det. Crane has not been formal charged under the Police Services Act,” a statement from Peel Regional Police says. “We have received the report provided by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director and it is currently under review. Once the review is complete, Peel Regional Police will proceed as directed.”
The OIPRD has not commented on their investigation, citing a policy not to discuss individual cases.
Panaich, however, told CP24 on Thursday afternoon that he feels vindicated by the findings.
He said that police “never even asked a single question” about the allegations contained in the press release and laid the charges largely on the basis of testimony from one individual.
“My life was turned upside down,” he said. “I was suspended on the same day and my kids suffered, my wife suffered and I suffered. I could not sleep.”
The allegations against Crane have not been tested by a police tribunal.
Panaich, Brar and another man who was investigated but not charged are currently suing Peel Regional Police for $1 million, according to a report in the Toronto Star.