‘Failed him again’: Dafonte Miller, lawyer criticizes irresponsibility after beating involved in an officer

The man, who was beaten by a Toronto police officer, says he does not understand why it took more than a year for the Toronto Police Service to release a report describing why its officers did not call Ontario’s police watchdog to investigate.

TPS says it has introduced new procedures to ensure that the special investigation unit is called as required by law in future situations involving deaths or serious injuries from police hands – although Dafonte Miller raises questions about whether anyone will be held accountable .

“No explanation has been given as to why we first hear about this October 2020 report a full year later, in November 2021,” Miller said in a statement. “This is not an effective way to build bridges with my family and the black community.”

Two officers mentioned in the report have retired, putting them out of the reach of any disciplinary investigation, Miller’s attorney, Julian Falconer, said.

“Toronto police service failed Dafonte Miller in December 2016, and they have failed him again today by not holding them accountable for trying to cover up what was done to Dafonte Miller,” Falconer said in a statement.

The report, by Supt Eugene Fenton of the Waterloo Regional Police Service, describes the series of decisions made that night in December 2016 following a series of 911 calls to a disturbing scene involving Const. Michael Theriault.

Theriault was later convicted of a vicious assault on Miller, who lost an eye in a blow involving a metal pipe. Theriault’s brother Christian was acquitted.

Dafonte Miller

At the time, police charged Miller and did not notify SIU of Const. Theriault’s involvement, though Fenton’s review found that the officer told Miller he had been arrested, searched him and handcuffed him.

“We were there to decide if the Toronto police should have called SIU, and they should have,” Fenton told the Toronto Police Services Board meeting Tuesday.

Toronto police say they change their policy to call SIU whenever an off-duty officer is involved in a death or injury as long as they used their police powers. This is roughly in line with a new provincial law passed about a year ago.

“I think we made the wrong decision at the time,” Toronto Police Chief James Ramer told the board.

At a news conference, Ontario’s Advocate General Sylvia Jones said she supported the change.

“It’s good practice, as many of our executives already do, and they will continue to improve their processes as we see fit,” Jones said.

But Abby Deshman of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said the policy changes could actually be a setback. Ontario’s old law required police forces to notify SIU in all cases of deaths and serious injuries involving police, whether on or off work, she said.

“This was legislation passed by this government to remove intelligence requirements for SIU. Intelligence requirements that were not followed in the Dafonte Miller case. We know that there were stricter requirements in place and that they were still not effective in this cases, she said.

“We are encouraged to see that the city of Toronto has stepped up to implement their own progressive policing measures after the Conservative Ford government repealed the Ontario Liberal Plan in 2019.” said Ontario Liberal MPP Lucille Collard.

Fenton’s report states that the officer that evening who was responsible for the decision not to notify SIU, Insp. Ed Boyd said he did not report because Theriault did not identify himself as a police officer, no Toronto equipment was used, and the officer acted as a civilian.

Boyd has now retired, as has art. Theriault’s father, a detective from Toronto who attended the scene. Fenton’s report showed that although Det John Theriault worked in the professional standard unit, he played no part in influencing the investigation and was only there to support his sons.

The resignations put both officers out of reach of police disciplinary action, Falconer said. Miller has filed a civil lawsuit alleging, among other things, that the officers present “have collectively entered into an agreement constituting a conspiracy to unlawfully cause and maintain the baseless charges against Dafonte. [Miller] and to protect PC Theriault and Christian Theriault from prosecution. “

There is a notice to defend the case at the Ontario Superior Court, but nothing more specific has been filed in defense.

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