TORONTO – Toronto police have identified a man seen pulling a gun out of his pants while in the backseat of a cruiser after he was taken into custody on suspicion of impaired driving downtown.
Officers said they responded to a report of an impaired driver in The Esplanade area on Sunday.
At the time, police located the accused sitting in the driver’s seat of a vehicle. He was taken into custody for alcohol-related offences and a pat down search was conducted, officers said.
While in the police cruiser, investigators said they heard “the sound of something hitting the floor in the rear seat.”
CTV News Toronto obtained video captured inside the cruiser on Monday, which shows a man in handcuffs squirming with his head down. The man is then seen reaching into his pants before pulling out a handgun and puts it between his legs.
“Officers stopped and opened the rear door of the police vehicle and discovered a semi-automatic pistol on the floor in front of the accused,” Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said in a news release issued on Tuesday morning.
“The firearm was secured, an additional search was conducted and the individual was brought to 51 Division for breath tests and processing.”
Mississauga-resident Ali Showbeg, 38, now faces nine charges in connection with the investigation, including eight firearm-related offences.
None of these charges has been proven in court. Showbeg is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 4.
Police issue safety notice to officers
In the wake of the recorded incident surfacing, Saunders said a safety notice to officers has been issued to “inform of the method of firearm concealment utilized in this situation.”
“The safety of our officers and the public is of paramount importance to the Toronto Police Service,” the chief said. “Our officers face risks every day in their jobs.”
“In this case, a call for a suspected impaired driver resulted in multiple firearm-related charges against an individual who allegedly concealed the firearm during his arrest by police.”
Saunders said the weapon was “not detected” during a search of the accused.
“The incident is under investigation to assess if this is a training or disciplinary matter.”
A “full investigation into the leak of the in-car camera evidence” is also underway, according to Saunders, who called the sharing of the video “a clear breach of protocol and procedure.”
Mayor Tory calls the incident ‘disconcerting’
Speaking on the matter on Tuesday morning, Toronto Mayor John Tory called it “disconcerting.”
“You don’t want to think that somebody who is inside a police car or anywhere else for that matter has a gun, especially after they’ve been searched,” he told reporters.
“It’s a matter for police to sort out as to how a search could happen and a gun could still remain in the custody of a suspect in a police car and I’ll look forward to seeing what comes out of that and what recommendations come out as to how that kind of thing can be avoided because it certainly would have placed the officers at risk, let alone the public, if that person had that gun, which appears to be the case.”
Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack told CTV News Toronto that the video shows “how prevalent and scary it is, the number of people out there who have guns.”
“Here’s someone who’s arrested for an unrelated offence and this could’ve been so much worse,” he said.
CP24’s crime specialist and former homicide detective Steve Ryan said the weapon should have never been missed by officers.
“(The area) around your waistband is a common area to search when somebody is handcuffed,” he said. “You cannot miss a firearm. There are no second chances when it comes to searching somebody for a gun.”
With files from CTV News Toronto's Tracy Tong
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