Charnjit Bassi was well-acquainted with the courts system in the Greater Toronto Area when he allegedly walked into a Brampton courthouse and shot a police officer in the abdomen on March 28.
Newly released court documents show Mr. Bassi, 45, has previously been charged with a range of offences from credit-card fraud to marijuana possession to refusing a breathalyzer. All charges against him were withdrawn, however.
For police and Mr. Bassi’s friends alike, the question remains why Mr. Bassi allegedly participated in an exchange of shots that ended in his death. Court staff say he had no court date scheduled.
From June to September 2002, Mr. Bassi and another man were jointly charged in what police believed was a credit- and debit-card fraud scheme by Toronto Police.
The men were charged with fraud, fraudulently possessing credit-card data, withdrawing money from bank accounts using counterfeit cards and possessing both “instruments of forgery” as well as machines that could skim debit- and credit-card data.
Those charges were withdrawn in September 2002.
In May 2011, Mr. Bassi was charged by York Regional Police with possession of marijuana and refusing to provide a breathalyzer sample to police, who had pulled him over. The charges were withdrawn three months later.
While several other documents that detail previous charges against Mr. Bassi have not yet been made available to the public, the Mississauga News has reported that in 2000, when he was 32, Mr. Bassi was charged with aggravated assault for allegedly using a sword in a fight at a Mississauga restaurant.
Those charges were also withdrawn. More court documents that will shed light on Mr. Bassi’s past are expected to be released in the coming days.
A long-time friend and even a previous divorce lawyer that worked with Mr. Bassi say they were unaware of Mr. Bassi’s brushes with the law and can’t imagine him being motivated by a mental breakdown as he always appeared calm and collected.
Ravinder Sawhney, who briefly represented Mr. Bassi in 2009, when he filed for divorce, said he was struck even then by how stable Mr. Bassi seemed, since he often had to provide emotional support to many of his past divorce clients.
“Usually people would not be characterized as composed,” Mr. Sawhney said. They only worked together a short while and Mr. Bassi elected to represent himself, which Mr. Sawhney took as a further credit to his mental stability.
“What’s going on his mind we can never know, though, and that’s a tragedy. I wish he had disclosed something to say he feels aggravated, he feels aggrieved,” he said. “There was no inkling.”
Jaswinder Khosa, who had known Mr. Bassi since the late eighties when both immigrated to Canada, said he only learned of his friend’s previous charges through media reports this week.
He said he and several other friends of Mr. Bassi have been called in for questioning by police this week as they try to piece together what might have motivated Mr. Bassi’s alleged actions on Friday.
It has been a trying experience for Mr. Khosa, as he and others who were close to Mr. Bassi are concerned by police actions during the March 28 altercation.
Neither Peel Regional Police nor the province’s Special Investigations Unit have released any details on how many shots were fired or how the altercation began.