On March 26, 2004, Canadian Football League linebacker Orlando Bowen was out celebrating his new contract with the Toronto Argonauts. Two plainclothes officers approached him, and he apparently ran away from them. There was an altercation, and Bowen was arrested for drug possession and assaulting a police officer.
Bowen, who spoke to schoolchildren about staying away from drugs, claimed that the cops had planted the drugs on him. In his version of the story, he was talking on his cell phone outside a club in Mississauga when two men approached him looking for drugs. Bowen turned them down, the men got more aggressive, and one grabbed his arm. He broke free and ran. One of the men shouted, “Stop, or I’ll shoot.” He then realized they were police officers, so he stopped. He was beaten, getting a concussion and a busted lip, and that’s when they planted the cocaine on him.
He went to trial in 2005, and both officers, Sheldon Cook and Grant Gervais, testified in court that Bowen threw away the cocaine as he ran. However, Bowen was acquitted when one of the arresting officers, Sheldon Cook, was arrested for trafficking cocaine.
The damage had already been done. Bowen, who had been a pillar of the community, had his reputation trashed. He also had to retire from football early because of a concussion he’d received during the arrest.
Bowen sued the police department for $14 million and received an out-of-court settlement. He is now a motivational speaker and has even forgiven the two officers who arrested him. Cook was suspended without pay from the force and then was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison. He’s appealing the conviction.