Some of the Halifax Regional Police officers involved in pulling Kayla Borden over in 2020 testified Monday as her Nova Scotia Police Review Board hearing resumed.
Constables Scott Martin and Jason Meisner are the named officers in the complaint that was initially dismissed by Halifax Regional Police.
Police pulled Borden over in the wee hours of the morning on July 28, 2020 in Dartmouth. She was handcuffed and placed under arrest when she was suspected of evading police less than an hour earlier in Halifax.
Const. Anil Rana was first to testify Monday. Rana said he was on duty just before 1am when he heard over the police radio that Const. Stewart McCulley tried to pull over a dark car that sped off and got away after a brief pursuit.
Rana said he started driving toward where McCulley last saw the vehicle turn left onto Kearney Lake Road from the Bedford Highway.
“I didn’t stop any vehicles. The only thing I remember is while I was driving on the Bedford Highway, I did see a dark colour vehicle coming north on Bedford Highway, and then I initiated my traffic lights,” Rana said. “And my memory is that two vehicles were stopped on the opposite side of the street.”
Rana got on the radio with McCulley who said it couldn’t be the same car given the geographical location.
“So, I did activate my lights, but didn’t do a traffic stop,” Rana said.
Borden, who testified at the hearing last year, said she pulled over at one point that night while still in Bedford to let a police car pass her.
Rana said he continued to check side streets until he later heard Borden’s car had been stopped.
Const. Sym Dewar was next to testify on Monday. He said he left the police station on Convoy Run in Bedford when he heard McCulley’s report and went to assist.
Dewar said he turned onto Hammonds Plains Road and went to the offramp by the Bicentennial Highway to try to intercept the vehicle.
Dewar said he remembers the car described as a dark coloured sedan with no headlights on.
When he heard Meisner radio that he’d spotted what he thought was the car (but was actually Borden) he left his location and started following Meisner’s unmarked police car that was following Borden.
He said they kept enough distance between them and Borden so as to not be seen, so that the driver wouldn’t speed off again.
They followed her toward Magazine Hill.
Dewar said that he could see Borden’s car the whole time and that she didn’t have her headlights on.
When Borden testified last year, she said that she had her headlights turned on the entire time and that they come on automatically.
Dewar said that the description of a car’s model and colour could be mistaken, especially dark coloured vehicles, and especially at night.
Dewar said he and Meisner followed Borden until she was intercepted by several police cars in Dartmouth at an intersection in Burnside.
Dewar and Meisner both testified that Borden turned her lights on shortly before arriving at the intersection where she was arrested.
Dewar said he heard Martin tell Borden she was under arrest for evading police.
In her opening testimony last year, and in a subsequent interview with the Halifax Examiner Sunday, Borden said she was asked if she knew why she was being arrested. She said when she asked why she was being arrested she was told, “We’ll find out in a minute.”
Dewar and Meisner both testified Monday that McCulley arrived immediately on the scene, indicated that it was the wrong car, and then took off.
Although Borden was no longer suspected of a criminal offense, Dewar and Meisner both said Borden was in violation of a motor vehicle offense for driving without her headlights on.
Borden’s arrest was rescinded, but she remained detained while Meisner collected and recorded her license and insurance information.
Dewar and Meisner said this was necessary because Borden was still in violation of a motor vehicle offence, and because it was still an ongoing investigation into the driver that had gotten away.
Dewar remained on the scene with Meisner and they were the last two officers to see Borden that night.
They both said she was calm and cooperative.
Meisner, one of the two officers named in the complaint, testified he was at the police station in Bedford when McCulley’s call first came in.
He got into an unmarked K-9 vehicle with his police dog in the back and headed inbound (south) on the Bedford Highway when he saw what he thought was a dark-coloured sedan.
Meisner said the car was speeding in the opposite direction with no headlights on.
He said he put on his brakes and turned around to follow the car.
“The purpose of following this vehicle is that I believed at the time that it was the suspect vehicle involved in a pursuit that had just occurred and had been radioed by Constable Stewart McCulley,” Meisner said.
Meisner said he pulled up relatively close to Borden’s driver’s side and got out as Martin and Nicolson were engaging with Borden who had just been arrested.
“Constable Stewart McCulley radios in that he’s attempting to stop a vehicle that will not stop and then a pursuit ensues. And it’s clear at that time that that vehicle has no intention of stopping. He describes it as, he said on the radio, a Pontiac,” Meisner said.
“[Borden’s car] fit the description of a four-door Sedan, dark in colour, [without] a driver with a hat on. No headlights. So within that same area, and I’m in a relative position to that area, at the west office on the Bedford Highway, I observe a dark-coloured sedan coming towards me. I cannot observe the driver, but I observe a dark-coloured sedan pass by me. It appeared to be, through my experience, a higher rate of speed than the posted speed limit, with no headlights on.”
“So, already knowing that [it could be] the vehicle, and being within this very approximate area with very light traffic, late at night, I believed at that time that it was highly likely that the vehicle I’m observing travelling outbound, as described by Constable McCulley could very likely and highly probably be the vehicle that he previously pursued.”
Meisner said the rest of the police started to take off once it became clear that Borden was not the person they were looking for.
He said Dewar asked Borden to move her car to the side of the road.
Meisner said he asked Borden for her license and insurance information which he said is standard practice with a traffic stop under the Motor Vehicle Act.
“I can recall her, and I don’t know the exact words verbatim, but I can recall her expressing concern that a whole bunch of white police officers had stopped her,” Meisner said. “My belief at the time [was that] she was insinuating she believed we were stopping her because of that.”
Meisner said he told Borden that wasn’t the case and explained the best he could the reasons why she was stopped.
He said it was his discretion to not issue Borden a ticket for speeding or for driving without headlights on. He said he could tell she was shocked and said he could empathize.
Meisner said he then apologized and sent her on her way.
The hearing resumes Tuesday and will hear testimony from the other officer named in the complaint, Martin.