Two cases of police misconduct arising out of G20 summit set for review
TORONTO - Two separate cases of police misconduct arising out of the turbulent Toronto G20 summit almost seven years ago lurch toward finality this week and next as the various parties involved battle another round.
This time, the Ontario Civilian Police Commission will be reviewing the disciplinary convictions and penalties handed down to a senior officer, who ordered mass arrests, and a constable who beat a protester with his baton.
The first hearing -- slated for Wednesday -- relates to Const. Babak Andalib-Goortani, who was docked five days pay in November 2015 for using excessive force. His victim, Adam Nobody, argues the sentence handed down by a police tribunal was too lenient and that Andalib-Goortani should be fired or at least face another sentencing hearing.
"The police are a paramilitary institution with a monopoly on the use of force against civilians," Nobody's factum states. "This appeal is about whether police officers are accountable to the civilians who employ them for misconduct in the course of their duties."
Andalib-Goortani was the only officer criminally convicted for police actions at the G20. Based partly on videotape evidence, he was found to have hit Nobody several times even though the protester was already on the ground and surrounded by other arresting officers.
The judge in his case, who sentenced him to 45 days in jail, found he had shown no remorse and had deliberately ensured his name tag and badge weren't visible. On appeal, however, the officer was given a suspended sentence.
The conviction prompted Andalib-Goortani to plead guilty to misconduct before a disciplinary tribunal at which retired judge Lee Ferrier said the constable had "already paid too large a price for his misdeed" and docked him the five days pay.
Nobody argues that Ferrier made numerous mistakes, including being dismissive of the court's finding that the officer had not been truthful and had shown no remorse, and in concluding the assault was relatively minor.
Both Andalib-Goortani and the Toronto police service argue the penalty was reasonable and appropriate.
The officer, his factum states, pleaded guilty before Ferrier to one count of discreditable conduct for having a criminal conviction for what the defence termed a "minor application of force with the end of the baton" that did not leave a mark on the victim.
Firing the "excellent young officer" would be unwarranted and unjust and without precedent, the factum states.
In the second case -- expected to be heard April 4 -- Supt. Mark Fenton argues that retired justice John Hamilton wrongly convicted him of misconduct done "at the direction of, or with the full acquiescence of, senior police officers whom the officer reported to."
Fenton, a 28-year officer, was sentenced to a formal reprimand and loss of 30 paid days for exceeding his authority and discreditable conduct for ordering the indiscriminate arrests and hours-long detention of hundreds of people -- many simply passersby -- in a torrential downpour.
Those detained or arrested said at the tribunal that he had shown no remorse and called for his firing. The prosecution wanted a year-long demotion.
In arguing now for an acquittal, another hearing, or a reprimand, Fenton maintains he was the victim of an "institutional failure" that resulted in the "complete breakdown of the police response to the initial violence and mayhem" that left him with little choice other than to order the mass arrests.
While the police service maintains that Fenton was appropriately convicted and punished, the complainants still want him fired.
"The actions of Supt. Fenton's superiors have no bearing on whether he is guilty of misconduct for the unlawful arrests that he ordered," they argue. "He violated his oath of office, and brought international disgrace upon the Toronto Police Service and the city it is supposed to serve.
During the G20 summit on a weekend in June 2010, a few dozen vandals rampaged through the downtown, prompting police to make the unprecedented mass arrests and detentions that drew widespread condemnation for the violation of civil rights.