Both Durham Regional Police and Toronto Police continue to serve as evidence of why the Special Investigations Unit’s mandate needs more teeth. Both police services are supposed to be modern and sophisticated crime fighting machines. Yet, when it comes to the SIU, they are dumb, deaf and blind.
19-year-old Dafonte Miller, who is black, will lose an eye after an altercation with a Toronto cop, Const. Michael Theriault, last December 28, 2016. He was off-duty, but identified himself as a cop.
Miller was punched, and kicked in the face with a metal pipe. Durham cops attended to the scene and even if Miller suffered from multiple broken bones, the SIU was left in the dark. Durham police promptly charged Miller with a slew of criminal charges and predictably let Theriault walk free.
The SIU was notified four months after the incident by Miller’s lawyer, to boot.
All charges against Miller were withdrawn by the Crown. Theriault and his brother are now the ones facing multiple charges laid by the SIU, including aggravated assault and public mischief.
The conduct of both DRPS and Toronto police has been deplorable since the incident. Neither accept any responsibility for not notifying the SIU “immediately” once they became aware of the incident. Of course, DRPS being the first to become aware of the matter had that legal duty to report it to the SIU. Instead, they notified their buddies at the Toronto police.
Toronto police should have stepped up and did DRPS’s dirty deed by calling up the SIU. But the thin blue line being the thin blue line, they did squat.
Both police services should have owned up to their mistake. But no. In typical “the cover-up is worse than the crime,” or the alleged crime, they both accepted no responsibility.
And so, the zizany ensues.
They have mounted a two-prong defence to accusations they were ducking the SIU. First, they are pretending this involved a complex legal enigma. DRPS says it was Toronto police’s job to call SIU. Toronto police claims this case was thoroughly analysed by cops specializing in the SIU and it was found to be out of its mandate.
Of course, all of this is bogus and a moot point. The SIU ended up investigating the case and laying charges. Why are the police quarrelling about the obvious? The SIU wouldn’t have involved itself if it was outside their mandate.
Second, both the DRPS and Toronto police chiefs have ordered investigations to get to the bottom of all this. DRPS will do it internally and Toronto got Waterloo Regional Police Service to investigate. But neither Toronto police chief Saunders nor DRPS chief Paul Martin has the gonads to pledge making investigation findings public, which is very telling. They undoubtedly fear they may not be favourable ones, despite the fact police-investigating-police is almost always in favour of the police.
Both investigations are smoke and mirrors meant to assuage a public tired of being played when it comes to the SIU. Basically, a public relations exercise.
Toronto Mayor John Tory made himself sound very upset about the whole thing wowing to get the bottom of this fiasco for the sake of accountability. I have no faith in police investigating police and don’t expect either WRPS or DRPS investigations to have any impartial or meaningful findings. But if sincere, Tory, as a member of the police services board, should at least commit to publishing WRPS’s report and use his influence in the GTA to convince DRPS to make their internal investigation public.
We’d at least have something to go on instead of this ongoing dog and pony show.