Toronto Police Chief remains neutral after constable Theriault convicted of Dafonte Miller assault in 2016

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Toronto Police Chief remains neutral after constable Theriault convicted of Dafonte Miller assault in 2016

The entire justice system grinds to a glacial pace and meets out minimal convictions at most in cases involving police officers assaulting racialized and indigenous Canadians. While Michael Theriault was convicted of assault today, the judge ruled that an assault that resulted in Dafonte Miller losing an eye was not aggravated assault. Michael Theriault, who is suspended with pay, was also not convicted of obstruction of justice and his brother, Christian Theriault, was acquitted of all charges even though a witness, a district fire chief, testified to the savageness of the assault that he saw. Despite the court case occurring three and a half years after Dafonte Miller himself being assaulted and then charged, the Toronto Police Chief says he remains neutral in the case even after the conviction of Theriault. The system shows no signs of changing. 

A Toronto police officer has been found guilty of assault in the beating of a young Black man more than three years ago, while his brother has been acquitted of all charges. Michael Theriault was convicted of assault on Friday, but found not guilty of aggravated assault or obstruction of justice in relation to the Dec. 28, 2016, incident involving Dafonte Miller, which left him blinded in one eye. The officer's brother, Christian Theriault, was acquitted of aggravated assault and obstruction of justice.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Joseph Di Luca said the case, and others like it, "raise significant issues involving race and policing that should be further examined." But he said his task was not to conduct a public inquiry on race and policing, or to deliver the decision sought by the public — it was to determine the case based on the evidence. ...

After the judge's decision, Miller, now 22, and his mother held a news conference to show appreciation for the community that supported them. ...

"There's a lot of people who are in my position who don't get the same backing that I got and don't get to have their day to really have any vindication for what they're going through." ...

Michael Theriault is currently suspended with pay, Toronto police spokesperson Meaghan Gray said in an email before the verdict was handed down. ...

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders spoke to the media about the judge's decision on Friday afternoon. 

He said the police service will continue to investigate as Michael Theriault remains suspended. When asked if the officer will be able to work on the force again, Saunders said: "I won't answer to that. If I start saying things with respect to, what outcomes or expectations that I believe, then it does not provide fair opportunity for the tribunal process. By me staying neutral, it provides a better opportunity for fair and impartial decisions." ...

Michael Theriault, who was off duty that night in 2016, and his younger brother, Christian, both had pleaded not guilty, telling the court Miller attacked them that night and they were defending themselves, putting forth a case of self-defence.

The Crown contended there was no justification for the beating Miller suffered that night. Judge Di Luca called the self-defence justification "razor thin" during his ruling and said, "They were probably beating on Mr. Miller."

Miller, who was 19 at the time of the incident, said he was walking down a residential street in the early morning hours in Whitby, Ont. — more than 50 kilometres east of Toronto — with two friends. He testified that the brothers, who were at their father's house, came outside and questioned them. He told the court he ran and the Theriaults chased him, catching up to him between two houses. ...

Homeowner James Silverthorn, a district chief with Toronto Fire Services, was a Crown witness. He said he woke up even before the banging on the door to the sounds of screaming. He looked through his side window and saw two men beating another man. "It was continuous. It was very hard," he told the court. He said later, when the men had moved to the front of his house, he saw one man holding an object, stabbing down with it, to keep the man on the ground from getting up. A long metal pole with blood on it was found at the scene.

The Theriault brothers told the court they caught Miller and one of his friends breaking into their parents' vehicle and that they were trying to apprehend him. ...

The case has drawn attention to issues of anti-Black racism and police brutality, spurring protests in solidarity with Miller and his family. The demonstrators, sporting T-shirts that read "Justice for Dafonte" gathered outside the Oshawa Ont., courthouse even though the hearing did not take place there.


The young man's first name is Dafonte, not Davonte.


zazzo wrote:

The young man's first name is Dafonte, not Davonte.

That's right. I spelled it correctly in the title and in my discussion but the Globe and Mail spelled it wrong in the title and twice in the article that I quoted.


Ok, I am not sure I understand what you wrote.  However, I mentioned the correct spelling, out of respect for his family. If it were me, and I was interested enough to inform others of what happened, I would have made the correction myself.  But I do not want to be the cause of this thread being potentially derailed over spelling.  It is just that you often see on social media, the calls to Say their Name, so I thought it would be good to note his proper name.  That is all I am going to say on this. 


Hi zazzo. Long time no hear...


Hi, there, NDPP...yes, it's been awhile...


Interesting times. Hope you'll pop by more often.


I have corrected the spelling of Dafonte's name in both the thread title and the OP.


 Toronto City Council votes against 'defund'

"Eleven of these 13 councillors just supported body cameras for police and the motion passed - councillor Ainslie voted no, and councillor Robinson was absent. They voted to watch us get hurt and die instead of standing up to the police. We will remember and we'll fight back."


Body Cam Study Shows No Effect on Police Use of Force or Citizen Complaints

We know which side the Toronto police chief is 'neutral' on...


Toronto puts lipstick on the pig

"What Toronto has actually done is tinker around the edges to look like it's acting on systemic racism but by not defunding police or hold them to account you have just reinforced the Blue Wall around police racialized violence. You have traded our lives for comfort of status quo."

The classic Canadian solution to any political problem.