Misconduct charges are expected against 45 Toronto police officers involved in the G20 summit two years ago

By Zach Dubinsky and Dave Seglins,

May 18, 2012

Misconduct charges are expected against 45 Toronto police officers involved in the G20 summit two years ago, including five senior officers, one of them the commander who gave the notorious order to “kettle” protesters.

A copy of an investigative report carrying the logo of the provincial watchdog agency, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, was provided to CBC News late Thursday night by one of the 37 people who filed complaints about their treatment during the kettling incident. CBC News was unable to confirm its authenticity with the OIPRD.

The report says some of the responsibility for detaining several hundred people for four hours in the rain goes all the way to the top, to Toronto police Chief Bill Blair and Deputy Chief Tony Warr, though it falls short of mandating charges against them.

But the report says operational responsibility lies with Supt. Mark Fenton, one of two Toronto officers who served as “incident commanders” during the G20 and had control of officers in streets. He is expected to face two charges.

Fenton’s order to keep the group of protesters, bystanders and even some journalists boxed in at Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue “in a severe rain storm that included thunder and lightning was unreasonable, unnecessary and unlawful,” according to the document. It violated the detainees’ constitutional right against arbitrary detention and was negligent, the 276-page report says.

The commander’s explanation to investigators for his decision was that he feared police riot squads weren’t mobile enough to react to “ongoing attacks” by what he saw as “terrorists” committing acts of vandalism in Toronto’s streets. “Therefore, the tactic of isolating, containing the movement of the terrorists/protesters was required to stop the ongoing attacks and prevent new attacks,” the report quotes Fenton saying.

The report indicates the OIPRD is directing Blair to charge Fenton with two counts of misconduct under the Police Services Act: unlawful exercise of authority and discreditable conduct.

The charges under the Police Services Act are not criminal and amount to internal discipline, which can result in docking of pay to outright dismissal. None of the out-of-town police officers brought in to help Toronto police was charged.

The watchdog agency investigated nine other officers’ conduct in relation to the June 27, 2010, kettling incident, but charges were not substantiated against any of them.

The OIPRD tabled a separate public report on the G20 released Wednesday that concluded a “turning point’ during the summit weekend came late Saturday, June 26, when Warr implored Fenton to “take back the streets.”

OIPRD director Gerry McNeilly says that following those instructions the Major Incident Command Centre (MICC) structure broke down, as the night incident commander (Fenton) launched an “autocratic” and “dysfunctional” crackdown ordering mass arrests of protesters.

Some front-line officers, according to McNeilly, ultimately disregarded Fenton’s orders at the kettling and let some people out of the ring of riot squad officers, including those with medical emergencies. He noted records of one officer stating of Fenton, “He’s maniacal this MICC, he’s maniacal.”

Fenton could not be reached for comment and did not respond to emails from CBC News on Thursday night. He has not had an opportunity to respond to the report or the expected disciplinary charges against him.

45 police expected to face charges

Three or four of Fenton’s fellow senior officers, and about 40 other Toronto police, are also expected to face charges by the time the oversight body wraps up its investigation of G20 policing.

CBC News has learned that to date the OIPRD has ordered Blair to charge 28 of those officers, but the agency is expected to direct him to lay more counts against another 17, including Fenton, bringing the total number of officers facing discipline hearings to 45.

The Toronto Star reported early Friday that two of those senior officers found to have committed misconduct are the pair who were in command of the mass detention centre on Eastern Avenue, where hundreds of arrested people were held during the G20 weekend.

Some details of the OIPRD proceedings surfaced this week at Ontario’s Divisional Court when Toronto’s police union attempted to have the cases dismissed due to delays. A panel of three judges rejected the application brought by the union on behalf of eight officers — two accused of using unnecessary force on prisoners and six accused of conducting illegal arrests. They are now expected to appear before tribunals on June 19 and July 24.

The news of the disciplinary charges comes on the heels of the release on Wednesday of the OIPRD’s scathing systemic review of overall policing of the G20 summit, during which the agency says some officers used “excessive force” to crack down on demonstrations as more than 1,100 people were rounded up in the streets.

When he released his review, McNeilly told reporters that his team of investigators was also probing allegations against specific officers. He said 350 individuals filed complaints relating to G20 policing, and his office substantiated 107 of them, determining 97 were “serious.”

An OIPRD spokesman later explained that some of the complaints involved the same incidents and the same officers.

Criminal charges

The OIPRD proceedings against individual officers add to numerous disciplinary charges already laid by Blair on his own initiative against officers caught removing their name tags during G20 demonstrations.

In addition, criminal charges were laid against two Toronto constables by Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit, which probes serious injuries or deaths involving police.

The SIU charged Const. Babak Andalib-Goortani with assault with a weapon in connection with an incident at Queen’s Park in which protester Adam Nobody suffered a broken cheekbone in a violent takedown captured on video. He faces a second count of assault with a weapon stemming from another incident at the same protest in which a woman was hit with a baton.

And Const. Glenn Weddell stands accused of assault causing bodily harm after 30-year-old Dorian Barton’s arm was broken while he was photographing police during a protest. Source

Kettling incident was caught on video:

G20 charges coming against Toronto police commanders

By Dave Seglins,

May 17, 2012

A handful of senior Toronto police commanders are expected to be charged in coming weeks for a variety of misconduct offences over their leadership at the G20 summit in June 2010, CBC News has learned.

The charges are in addition to 28 frontline officers slated to have disciplinary hearings for a range of misconduct offences, including unlawful arrests and use of excessive or unnecessary force against prisoners.

The details of charges come on the heels of a report released yesterday by Ontario’s top civilian complaints watchdog Gerry McNeilly, head of the Office of the Independent Police Review Director.

He concluded in a “systemic review” of the G20 in Toronto that police leaders were poorly prepared and launched a crackdown that led to illegal mass arrests, arbitrary searches and unlawful detentions of more than 1,000 largely peaceful protesters and bystanders.

“Mr. McNeilly is recommending charges to be laid against about a half dozen senior officers,” confirmed Toronto Police Services board chair Alok Mukherjee in an interview with CBC News on Thursday.

Mukherjee said those who face misconduct hearings include “people who were in decision-making roles … that go pretty high in the organization. He has identified some people who are at very senior ranks.”

Toronto’s police union this week was in an Ontario court attempting to have all G20 disciplinary charges against officers thrown out due to lengthy delays.

But a panel of Ontario Divisional Court judges ruled against the union, clearing the way for disciplinary hearings to proceed in the coming months against 28 officers that could result in exonerations or punishments ranging from docking of officers’ pay to outright dismissal.

Until now, no details of specific charges against the officers have been released, however court documents reveal specific allegations against eight officers who have already been served with “notices of hearing.”

Those officers have not had a chance to defend themselves, but the charges against them are as follows:

  • Const. Vincent Wong Unlawful arrest of “J.W.” (Sunday, June 27, 10 a.m. at Yonge Street and Gerrard Avenue).
  • Const. Blair Begbie Unlawful arrest of “J.W.” (June 27, 10 a.m. at Yonge Street and Gerrard Avenue).
  • Const. Alan Li Unlawful arrest of “A.S.” (June 27, 4 p.m., Bloor Street West and Huron Street).
  • Const. Donald Stratton Unlawful arrest of “A.S.” (June 27, Bloor Street West and Huron Street).
  • Const. Michael Kirpoff Unnecessary force on prisoner “J.M.” (June 27, Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue).
  • Const. Ryan Simpson Unlawful arrest of cyclist “N.W.” (June 27, Bloor Street and Spadina Avenue).
  • Const. Jason Crawford Unlawful arrest of “N.W.” (June 27).
  • Const. Michael Martinez Unnecessary force on prisoner “J.R.” (Saturday, June 26, Novotel Hotel).

As a result of the disciplinary hearing, the officers could face penalties ranging from docked pay to dismissal. The officers could also be exonerated.

Toronto police spokesman Kevin Masterman told CBC News all of the officers facing misconduct charges remain on the job and are not suspended.

Constables Begbie and Wong will appear before a hearing on July 24. The rest of the officers have a hearing scheduled for July 19. Source

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Published in: on May 18, 2012 at 6:09 pm  Comments Off on Misconduct charges are expected against 45 Toronto police officers involved in the G20 summit two years ago  
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