Toronto police won’t review their handling of the Dafonte Miller case until after the court is finished dealing with criminal charges against a police officer and his brother in the alleged beating of a young black man, says the city’s police chief.
Mark Saunders told reporters after the Toronto Police Services Board meeting on Wednesday that the force has been asked by the Crown to delay an internal review until after the trial involving Const. Michael Theriault and his younger brother Christian Theriault.
“Well, usually the criminal courts precede anything else and I don’t see that changing. And in fact, I believe the Crown attorneys have asked, you know, let the case finish in the courtroom before moving towards the administrative review,” Saunders said.
A group protesting against what they see as inaction on the case interrupted and briefly shut down the services board meeting on Wednesday.
The brothers have been charged with aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and public mischief in the beating of Miller, then 19, in Whitby, Ont., east of Toronto, on Dec. 28, 2016.
Miller was struck with a metal pipe. His left eye was badly damaged and had to be surgically removed. He also suffered a broken nose, jaw and wrist as well as bruised ribs, along with severe psychological and emotional distress.
Saunders said “there are two very different stories as to what went on that day” and he looks forward to the court case because he said the trial “will present the most truthful component as to what happened.”
Saunders noted that the Waterloo Regional Police Service was asked to conduct an internal review of the Toronto Police Service following criticism over the handling of the case.
Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit was not notified about the assault until April 27, 2017 and it was notified by Miller’s lawyer Julian Falconer, not the Toronto Police Service.
The SIU is an arm’s-length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.
Saunders declined to say if the Waterloo police have finished their review.
“Anything that they can see with us when it comes to procedure or policy change or training, or any of those things, we definitely will look forward to and seeing what we can do to improve anything that we need to improve on,” Saunders said.