January 20, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 60  

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Johnson gets apology

HALIFAX (CP) — Halifax’s chief of police apologized to Kirk Johnson on Monday and admitted he was discriminated against when an officer stopped and seized the heavyweight boxer’s car five years ago.

Frank Beazley said he was sorry for the difficulty the high-profile incident caused Johnson and his family. The black athlete was pulled over in April 1998 for allegedly not having the proper papers for his car.

“I accept the finding that Mr. Johnson was discriminated against and recognize that this has been a humiliating, stressful and painful experience,” Beazley told reporters.

“I regret the effect this incident and the inquiry has had on the black community.”
The apology came a month after the chair of a human rights commission found that Const. Michael Sanford discriminated against Johnson when the officer spotted him driving a car with Texas plates and tinted windows in nearby Dartmouth.

Philip Girard, the head of the inquiry that examined the complaint, found that “race was a major factor” in the way Sanford dealt with Johnson.

Girard issued several recommendations to improve sensitivity training for officers and assess what needs to be done to improve relations with the black community.

Beazley said the force would accept the suggestions by offering Sanford and other members training that deals with stereotyping issues. They will also review sensitivity training to see if it needs to be improved.

Girard awarded Johnson $10,000 in damages.

Johnson was not immediately available for comment.



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