Recently former CFL player Orlando Bowen was presented with the 2014 Harry Jerome Award for Community Service. He was honored at a gala held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
Back-story: Bowen, a native of Jamaica was playing for the Hamilton Tiger Cats ten years ago. On March 26, 2004 he was out celebrating a new contract. While standing by his car talking on his cell phone, he was approached by two plainclothes policemen who asked to buy drugs. He replied that he didn’t sell drugs but the men persisted and one of them grabbed his arm. Bowen broke free and began to run away until he heard the command “Stop or I’ll shoot”. Up until that time he hadn’t realized the men were police. He stopped running. The police then savagely beat him and planted a bag of cocaine on him. They arrested Bowen and charged him with assaulting police and possession of cocaine.
When he learned of the charges he was stunned, especially in view of the fact that he had been working with police to encourage youth to stay away from drugs and gangs. He was acquitted on all charges in 2005 when one of the arresting officers, Constable Sheldon Cook (the other was Constable Grant Gervais) was himself charged and convicted of drug possession and trafficking. Bowen sued Peel Police for $14 million. The suit was settled out of court. Constable Cook is appealing his conviction and Constable Gervais is now Sgt. Gervais and received a service commendation in 2011.
Bowen who also played for the Toronto Argos is now 38 and although his athletic career was cut short by repercussions of the beating (concussion, etc.) he is very active in the community. He is the Executive Director of One Voice, One Team, an organization that empowers youth to become leaders through several activities including sports and workshops. He lives in Brampton, Ontario, is married, the father of three and a motivational speaker. He says the ordeal 10 years ago has made him a better human being and a better father, son, husband and brother. He forgives the police who assaulted him say8ing he does not have time to harbor negativity. “There’s too much work to do. We’re losing young people all the time. I don’t have time to be angry at the officers.” We congratulate Orlando Bowen and believe he is a most worthy recipient and a positive role model in the community.