Ontario Supreme Court upholds conviction of Toronto police officer for assaulting Dafont Miller

Ontario Supreme Court upholds conviction of Toronto police officer for assaulting Dafont Miller


The Ontario Court of Appeals rejected the appeals filed by the Royal and the defense after a Toronto police officer was convicted of brutally assaulting a young black man.

In December 2016, after Michael Theriault was sentenced to 9 months in prison for assaulting Dafonte Miller, the defense has been trying to overturn Michael Theriault’s assault conviction.

Officials have appealed the acquittal of Theriault and his brothers, charged with aggravating assault and obstruction of justice-but said that a new trial will only take place after his assault is overturned.

The Supreme Court of Ontario rejected the defense appeal after finding that the trial judge’s method was correct and rejected the official appeal. In view of its retrial position, it did not consider the merits of the case.

Prosecutors claimed during the trial that Theriault and his brother pushed Miller into desperation in the early hours of the morning and beat him with a metal pipe, causing his eyes to rupture and causing other injuries because they said they caught him stealing from the family truck. thing.

The case triggered multiple protests against black racism and police discrimination.

The Toronto Police Department, which continues to hire Theriault, said in a statement on Monday: “The department’s position remains the same; while the internal disciplinary proceedings continue, the Theriault officer will continue to be suspended without pay.”

The police said that in view of the possibility of further appeals, no further comment will be made.

Miller, photo taken in Oshawa Durham District Court, Ontario, November 2019. He called Monday’s ruling a “big step forward.” (Colberston/Canada Press)

“A big step forward,” Miller said

Miller told reporters at a virtual press conference on Monday that the ruling is important.

“For me, I think today’s decision is obviously a big step forward,” he told reporters.

Miller said the decision was to acknowledge that racism “plays a role in police interaction, not only in my case, but also in other people who may experience the same situation as me.”

“I thank Crown and everyone who supported me for all the hard work done, just to help this move forward.”

Miller said he was “one step closer to moving on,” which would allow him to focus his energy and attention elsewhere.

Miller’s mother Lysa Lewis said that the family can now start to recover.

Lewis said: “I’m glad that everything is coming to an end, we can actually start rebuilding and move on, and we don’t have to really deal with the problem of trial and error.”

Lewis said she has a message for the criminal justice system: “Do it better.”

She urged the police: “Try to make your job more humane. It’s not just about salary. You influence people. What you do affects us deeply.”

Julian Falconer, a lawyer for the Miller family, stated that the heads of the retired Toronto Police Department and Durham Regional Police Department were responsible for what happened that night, accusing them of “covering up” crime. The attack occurred in Whitby, Ontario, east of Toronto and Durham.

Falconer himself reported the incident to the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) of the province’s independent police oversight agency, and stated that it is “unforgivable” for the Toronto and Durham police to fail to do so.

SIU investigates all cases involving the police causing serious injuries or deaths to civilians, as well as allegations of sexual assault against the police.

But Falconer said Monday’s court ruling was a good one.

Falcona said: “This judgment represents an important beginning for Dafont and his family to build a certain degree of confidence in the judicial system and other members of the African-Canadian community who may not have confidence in our judicial system.”

Ethnic background “relevant”

In a 78-page ruling, Judge Michael Tulloch stated that the ethnic background of the crime was a factor in the case. The other two members of the panel are Judge Gary Trotter and Judge Lois Roberts.

“Officials have not proven that this is a racially motivated crime beyond reasonable doubt. However, the ethnic background in which this crime occurred is a relevant consideration,” Turlock wrote.

“Although often overlooked because we tend to stay away from the social ills that plague our southern neighbors, Canada’s long history of anti-black racism has been reflected in contemporary phenomena, namely, excessive regulation and disproportionate regulation in the interactions between blacks. Violent incident,” he continued.

“Systemic and open racism has long been treated unequal before the law, leading to a crisis of trust in the justice system in some communities. The time has come to liquidate Canada’s systemic racism.”

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