Toronto police convicted of hitting black man who lost his eye

A Toronto police officer was convicted of assault by hitting a young black man who lost an eye when he was arrested in 2016.

TORONTO – A Toronto police officer was convicted of assault by hitting a young black man who lost an eye when he was arrested in 2016.

Prosecutors alleged Agent Michael Theriault, who was out of service at the time, and his brother Christian chased Dafonte Miller into the wee hours of the morning, cornering the 19-year-old between two houses in Whitby, Ontario, and beating him so badly. wrong. with a pipe that exploded his left eye.

Theriaults has pleaded not guilty to aggravated assault and obstruction of justice in connection with the December 28, 2016 incident and its consequences. The judge convicted the officer and acquitted his brother.

Ontario Superior Court Judge Joseph Di Luca delivered his verdict on Friday. Michael Theriault will be sentenced at a later date and faces up to five years in prison.

Miller thanked the community for their support.

“Now an officer has been held to account to some degree,” he said. “There are many people in my position who do not receive the same support as me.”

Miller’s attorney, Julian Falconer, said Miller appeared to be as much on trial as the brothers. Falconer said it all started as a case with multiple charges, including the use of a weapon, drug possession, and other charges against Miller. He said his client did not deserve to have a steel pipe used against him or lose his eye.

“How did it happen that a person suffering from catastrophic injuries, his left eyeball on the hood of a car, parts of his eye that actually dripped onto the hood of the car, in the hands of two people who had no visible injuries at all? The subject of multiple criminal charges without any Durham service member questioning it? ”Falconer said.

Falconer called it a cover-up because the Durham police and the Toronto police did not contact internal affairs. He called for a federal investigation into police beatings against black and indigenous Canadians.

“This is not an isolated incident. It is not a bad apple. This is happening in North America, “said Falconer. “It is a chronic systemic problem.”

Defense attorneys argued that the brothers caught Miller and his friends getting into a vehicle and acted in self-defense, alleging that Miller was the one holding a pipe.

Reading his decision, Di Luca said he took into account the social context surrounding the case. The case, and others like it, “raise important issues related to race and the police that should be examined further,” he said.

But the judge said his task was not to conduct a public investigation into the race and the police or to issue the verdict requested by the public, but to determine the case based on evidence.

The 22-year-old Miller testified last fall and denied stealing cars that night.

He told the court that he was walking with two friends when Theriaults started asking them why they were in the area. He said the brothers started chasing him when he and his friends walked away.

Miller said he had no chance to defend himself, and only remembered seeing Michael Theriault with the pipe.

The case has sparked protests by members of the Black Lives Matter and other anti-racism activists.

“As a chief, I cannot deny that this issue will have increasing tension between the police and the community, especially the black community,” said Toronto Police Chief Marc Saunders.

Dafonte Miller received a life-altering injury. He lost his eye.

Saunders said he could not comment on whether the officer will keep his job as internal investigations will continue after the appeal process. Theriault has been on paid suspension.