POLICING….still more….

“It is difficult to imagine how public confidence can be maintained in the rule of law when police officers present false evidence against accused persons. Our justice system cannot function unless courts can rely on the willingness of witnesses to……tell the truth.”

So wrote Judge Katherine Corrick in her August 8th decision when staying charges against one defendant, and finding his two co-accused not guilty of possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking and possession of the proceeds of crime.

She found Toronto police Constable Bradley Trenouth“deliberately misleading” in testimony to “strengthen the case” against an accused, and “falsely attributed” a large piece of crack cocaine to one Jason Jaggernauth. He and two others, Jordan Davis and Jimal Nembrand-Walker, were discovered in a Scarborough apartment in 2014 with multiple types of drugs and drug paraphernalia. Drugs were found on two of the accused but not on Jaggernauth.

“The false attribution of evidence to an accused’s possession, and false testimony by a police officer constitute precisely the type of state misconduct that undermines the integrity of the judicial process,” Corrick wrote.

While the judge is described in the August 12 Toronto Star as ‘scathing’ in her decision, a Toronto police spokesperson “can’t say whether (Trenouith) will face any discipline.”

“I CAN’T PICTURE THIS HAPPENING TO A GROUP OF WHITE KIDS”, captioned a photo of Dafonte Miller’s family on the front page of the July 19th Toronto Star.

Star staff reporter Peter Goffin began, “An off-duty cop outside his jurisdiction. A young Black man allegedly beaten with a metal pipe. A family making accusations of racial profiling and a mishandled police investigation.”

In the early hours of December 28, 2016, 19-year-old Dafonte Miller was walking on a Whitby, Ontario sidewalk near his home with a group of friends…also black….on their way to another friend’s home. The group passed a house where off-duty Toronto police Constable Michael Theriault was in the garage with his younger brother. They’re both only a few years older than Miller, and the house is owned by their father, John Theriault, a detective with more than 30 years of service with Toronto Police, currently working in the professional standards unit.

The two men approached the group, one identifying himself as a police officer, and asked where the friends lived and what they were doing in the neighbourhood. They kept walking. The Theriault brothers gave chase, later claiming a car in their driveway had been broken into (later debunked), caught up with Miller and punched, kicked, and struck him in the face repeatedly with a metal pipe.

Miller tried to call 911, but Theriault grabbed the phone, and identified himself as a police officer making an arrest. A number of Durham police showed up and charged Miller with possession of a weapon (Theriault claimed it was Miller attacking him with the pipe), two counts of assault with a weapon, theft under $5000, and possession of marijuana. All charges were later dropped.

Miller was hospitalized with a broken nose, broken orbital bone, fractured wrist, and his left eye was so badly damaged, it had to be removed.

Neither Durham or Toronto police called the SIU, which they are legally bound to do under the circumstances. Dafonte Miller’s family hired attorney Julian Falconer and he notified the SIU in May. As a result, the Theriault brothers have been charged with aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, and public mischief.

In the months following, Star writers Jennifer Pagliard, David Rider, and Wendy Gillis have joined Peter Goffin in covering this ongoing saga of accusations of police cover-up by both Toronto and Durham forces, interference by the brothers’ father, Detective John Theriault, and further, that the brothers misled the police investigation.

Criticisms have come from many quarters. Durham police announced they will investigate themselves, but their report will not be made public. Toronto Chief Mark Saunders enlisted Waterloo police to look at his force’s actions here, and promised to make this report public. Still, we once again face this question of the police investigating police. Not right, not good for us, not good for policing. Look for the ‘spin’ on this to make Miller the villain.

There was a “We’re here for Dafonte” protest outside an Oshawa courthouse on Thursday, September 7, when the Theriault brothers made a brief appearance.

“For the second time in just over a month, the Toronto Police Service is under fire for failing to report a case of a seriously injured Black man to Ontario’s police watchdog.” This time it was Jacques Gallant writing in the Toronto Star, grabbing the paper’s front page on August 25.

A 23-year-old black man was getting into a cab in front of his apartment building in November of 2015 when Toronto police dragged him from the car, kneed him in the back, beat him, illegally searched and groped him, and dragged him toward a police cruiser. He lost consciousness at one point and suffered a concussion and mental trauma. Police claimed they were responding to reports of gunfire in the area. They didn’t find a gun.

Now 25 and wanting to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals, he told reporters police refused his offer to follow him into his building to retrieve ID, and only when his mother came out with his identification did the police leave him alone.

He didn’t discuss this for months, but after reading reports of black men being beaten and killed by police, he went to the African Canadian Legal Clinic. They in turn reported this to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, who then notified the SIU, almost a year after the incident. Here again, by not bringing in the SIU, police did not do what they are required to do by law. As a result of a SIU investigation, Constable Joseph Dropuljic was charged with assault.

Adding insult to injury, police called him a “f—–g idiot” and told him to “shut the f—k up” when he asked why they were trying to arrest him. When Dropuljic couldn’t come up with a reason to further detain him, the man was told to “Get the f—k out of my car.”

Nice, eh?


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