Sunday, February 26, 2012

Canadian man arrested and strip-searched after 4-year-old daughter drew picture of gun at school

A Kitchener father is upset that police arrested him at his children’s’ school on Wednesday, hauled him down to the station and strip-searched him, all because his four-year-old daughter, Neaveh, drew a picture of a gun at school. “I’m picking up my kids and then, next thing you know, I’m locked up,” Jessie Sansone, 26, said. “I was in shock. This is completely insane. My daughter drew a gun on a piece of paper at school.” The school principal, police and child welfare officials, however, all stand by their actions. They said they had to investigate to determine whether there was a gun in Sansone’s house that children had access to.

“From a public safety point of view, any child drawing a picture of guns and saying there’s guns in a home would warrant some further conversation with the parents and child,” said Alison Scott, executive director of Family and Children’s Services. Sansone thinks police overreacted. He didn’t find out until hours after his arrest what had actually sparked the incident. He said he went to the school on Wednesday afternoon to pick up his three children. He was summoned to the principal’s office where three police officers were waiting. They said he was being charged with possession of a firearm. He was escorted from the school, handcuffed and put in the back of a cruiser. At the police station, Sansone talked to a lawyer who said only that he was being charged with possession of a firearm.

He was given a blanket and told he would appear before a judge in the morning to post bail. “I was getting pretty scared at that point,” Sansone said. “It seemed like I was actually being charged at this point.” He was forced to remove his clothes for a full strip search. Several hours later, a detective apologized and said he was being released with no charges, Sansone said. The detective told him that his four-year-old daughter had drawn a picture of a man holding a gun. When a teacher asked her who the man was, the girl replied, “That’s my daddy’s. He uses it to shoot bad guys and monsters.” “To be honest with you, I broke down,” Sansone said. “My character got put down so much. I was actually really hurt, like it could happen that easy.”

YouTube link.

After he was released, Sansone was asked to sign a paper authorizing a search of his home. “I just think they blew it out of proportion,’’ Sansone's wife, Stephanie Squires said. “It was for absolutely nothing. They searched our house upside down and found nothing. They had the assumption he owned a firearm. The way everything happened was completely unnecessary, especially since we know the school very well. I don’t understand how they came to that conclusion from a four-year-old’s drawing.’’ The school principal, Steve Zack, said a staff member called child welfare officials because the law requires them to report anything involving the safety or neglect of a child. The agency chose to involve police, he said. “Police chose to arrest Jessie here. Nobody wants something like this to happen at any time, especially not at school. But that’s out of my hands.”


The Rat King said...

Just so folks know just how mad this is; firearms are perfectly legal to own in Canada. Most anybody can get a long-guns license that allows them to buy and own and use rifles and shotguns. Most people can also pick up a Restricted class license, which allows for the same with hand guns.

You can own everything from a pellet gun to a 20mm Lahti anti-tank rifle with no issue, so long as they are properly stored and the owner is licensed.

So what this guy has been dealing with is absolutely fucking mad.

Shak said...

Do you remember the good old days when we had freedoms?

Unknown said...

I didn't see it mentioned in this article, but another mentions the man has a criminal past. That doesn't justify his treatment, but it is likely that he is not allowed to own a gun. It was still an absurd over-reaction.

Anonymous said...

Ahh, that's my Canada, home of the brave and home of the free. Alas, Canada in is an era of police excesses and this kind of stuff happens all the time. It is all really about police arguing for greater budgets, more power, greater political control of society, expanded police unions, and higher wages. There is little the average Canadian can do other than to grin and bear it. Getting too politically active will get you a visit from the police, saying strange things will get you a visit from the police and speeding will certainly get you a visit from the police. Unfortunately, they can not do anything about real crime other than to call for more police and bigger police budgets. Meanwhile home invasions are on the increase and property crime continues to rise. Many times you have more to fear from the police than from the criminals.