John Baglow

"11 days of lying, cheating police officers"

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Have the limits of police impunity finally been reached?

Canadians are used to police officers getting a pass for everything from pepper-spraying a baby to Tasering an old man in a hospital bed to killing a new immigrant. Toronto police have been no exception. During the G20 demonstrations in Toronto, officers tore off a prosthesis from a peaceful demonstrator, beat up other protesters for the joy of it, and made hundreds of illegal arrests. One or two token officers were offered up after the press did what the gormless SIU couldn’t or wouldn’t do, but the authorities, from the mayor to the Ontario Premier to the federal government, championed the police. There was, in general, no accountability to the public whom these thugs allegedly serve.

Needless to say, in this atmosphere of impunity cops pretty well figure they can do anything they want. But push came to shove in a Toronto courtroom this past week.

Raymond Costain, a Toronto driver quite possibly under the influence, was savagely beaten by police, repeatedly being struck while on the ground, unresisting, in handcuffs. He was arrested, charged and brought to court. Officer after officer lied on the stand, claiming he had attacked them—the usual routine.

Then the video (see above) surfaced.

In one of the more darkly funny moments during the trial, police tried to explain why they shut off the on-board cameras once they realized they were recording the assault. “To save energy,” they claimed.

The judge was not amused. In fact he was outraged, and delivered a two-hour spanking to the cops for lying and attempting to cover up their behaviour. He dismissed all of the charges against the driver.

Costain’s lawyer reported numerous cases of intimidation by cops as she was trying to defend her client: the uniforms followed her to her car, surrounded her, even took pictures of her in the courthouse. Following the latter incident, the judge put an officer on the stand and demanded that he show him his cellphone. The officer told him, in effect, to go fly.

You or I would spend time behind bars for contempt. But the judge, perhaps fearing a mistrial, simply had him removed from the courtroom.

The question now, of course, is what will be done about this. In the past, it has been little or nothing. But this case was so flagrant, involved so much lying, so much conspiring, so much frankly illegal behaviour, that the powers that be will be hard put to ignore it.

Police brutality pic.JPG

As a side-note, the Toronto police failed to report any of this to the SIU:

The province’s Special Investigations Unit not only announced it was going to investigate the 2010 incident involving Raymond Costain but also pointed out that once again police did not tell them as they are mandated to do.

“The SIU learned of the incident through media reports,” said a news release from the SIU Friday.

Great. What happens from here on in will be a case-study in itself of the limits—or the limitlessness—of police impunity in Toronto.

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This page contains a single entry by John Baglow published on March 17, 2013 10:34 AM.

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