A B.C. Supreme Court judge has dismissed an accused drug dealer’s argument that his Charter rights were breached during a traffic stop in downtown Kamloops more than two years ago.
Lyndon Cahoose, 24, said members of an RCMP task force based in the Lower Mainland had no right to detain him, but Justice Dev Dley found police did indeed have reasonable grounds for making the arrest.
Cahoose is facing two counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking. He was riding shotgun in a car when it was pulled over on West Victoria Street on Nov. 15, 2017. The traffic stop was initiated because the vehicle failed to display its ‘L’ learner’s decal.
The vehicle’s three occupants were placed under arrest when an officer approaching the car said he smelled marijuana. Its occupants were told to sit outside the vehicle.
Another officer then saw Cahoose removing small baggies of drugs from his pants and hiding them in mulch, court heard. The bags’ contents were later found to contain fentanyl.
No marijuana was found in the vehicle, but RCMP Cpl. Stewart Masi testified in Kamloops Law Courts on Wednesday that he was following his nose.
“I said, ‘Everybody’s under arrest,’” the corporal said. “I immediately smelled fresh marijuana coming from the vehicle. It was strong. To me there was no question of what I was smelling coming from that car.”
Police did find a marijuana pipe with some residue in the vehicle, but no cannabis.
Defence lawyer Sheldon Tate challenged the validity of Cahoose’s arrest, arguing his client’s Charter rights — protecting him from unreasonable seizure and arbitrary detention — were breached by police.
“How do you know that the smell didn’t come from down the street?” Tate asked.
“My experience in vehicle stops and in these types of situations, I had no other smell approaching the vehicle, I had no other smell getting out of my vehicle and I had no odour until I arrived at the door of that vehicle,” Masi said. “I have no doubt in my mind that it was coming from that car.”
Masi is a member of the RCMP’s combined forces special enforcement unit, which he said was conducting “proactive patrols” in Kamloops at the time of Cahoose’s arrest.