G20 – Another Arrest

Update: see previous posts June 7, 2011 G20 Update – Who Assaulted Adam? Nooobody!, June 1, 2011 Ottawa Police Enjoy Their Share of the G20 Money Pie, McGuinty to Scrap the Secret G20 Law (1939 Public Works Protection Act), March 31, 2011 The “G20 Bump” Translates into a 60% Increase of Toronto Police Making the 2010 Sunshine List, March 19, 2011 Harper Screws Toronto’s Businesses, March 18, 2011 New G20 Lawsuits Launched Against Toronto Police Board, December 7, 2010 Ontario Umbudsman André Marin Delivers Report on G20 “Caught in the Act”, August 8, 2010 G20 Litigation, August 1, 2010 Damage$ Flowing from Charter Breaches

see source reprinted from the Toronto Star

Const. Glenn Weddell, the subject officer in the investigation in Dorian Barton's alleged assault, leaves the SIU building on Friday, June 10, 2011. STEVE RUSSELL/TORONTO STAR

It took a year and a great deal of investigation, but another person of interest was discovered and was arrested as a result of an incident that took place during the G20 summit, which took place almost a year ago.

After nearly one year, two closed investigations, and a public squabbling match between Toronto police and the agency tasked with investigating them, criminal charges have finally been laid in the case of Dorian Barton.

On Friday, the Special Investigations Unit charged Toronto police Const. Glenn Weddell with assault causing bodily harm in connection with Barton’s arrest during the G20 summit last June. The charge came on the same day the Toronto Star publicly revealed Weddell was the previous unnamed officer photographed during Barton’s violent arrest.

“I’m just happy that they laid charges,” Barton said Friday. “And I’m definitely happy that this whole SIU process is over.”

Barton, a 30-year-old cookie maker, alleges he was photographing police at a Queen’s Park demonstration when he was slammed with a riot shield and beaten with a baton, leaving him with bruises and a broken arm.

The SIU launched an investigation on June 27, 2010, but wound up shutting down and reopening the case twice, each time citing lack of evidence.

Some critics have suggested a “blue wall of silence” within the police service has complicated the role of the SIU, a civilian agency that investigates claims of police officers causing injury, death or a sexual assault.

The SIU says it had difficulty obtaining information that could identify the subject officer in Barton’s case — this despite interviews with 11 witness officers, eight of whom were in the immediate vicinity of Barton’s takedown, and one who allegedly shared a room with the subject officer during the summit.

In January, the SIU received photographs of Barton’s arrest taken by hospital employee Andrew Wallace, who allegedly witnessed an officer strike Barton with a baton while he lay on the ground.

Barton’s investigation was last reopened on May 26, 2011. In a news release Friday, Scott said the SIU has since received the information they needed to lay charges against Weddell.

“As a result of information provided by the TPS after May 26, 2011, the SIU conducted three further interviews of TPS members,” Scott said in the release. “On the basis of information received in those interviews, and in conjunction with information gathered in the prior investigations, there are now reasonable grounds to believe that Toronto Police Const. Glenn Weddell committed the offence of assault causing bodily harm against Dorian Barton on June 26, 2010.”

Weddell, who works out of 11 Division, arrived at SIU headquarters just before 2 p.m. Friday to be formally charged. He has been suspended with pay and will appear in court on July 21.

On Friday, Weddell was accompanied by the Toronto Police Association’s counsel, Jimmy Lee, along with TPA director Mike Abbott and Mike McCormack, the association’s president.

The association “stands behind the officer,” McCormack said.

“He’s getting through it,” he said of Weddell. “It’s very difficult for an officer going through this situation and he’s looking forward to his day in court.”

McCormack added he had “concerns” with the way the SIU handled the investigation and revealed information to the media.

In late May 2011, Scott told the Star the SIU had made repeated requests to Toronto police for the name of the officer who identified Weddell.

Police say they provided the SIU with the name of the subject officer in late January, obtained after an officer zoomed in on a photograph and identified a badge number. The SIU said its own investigators were unable to identify the badge number using their technology.

But police spokesperson Mark Pugash disputed Scott’s version of events, countering that police only received such a request on May 25. He added police would comply with the request and as a result, the SIU reopened its investigation the following day.

Barton has been frustrated by the lengthy delays in the SIU investigation. When his case was closed for a second time, he lost hope that charges would ever be laid.

Barton believes Friday’s charge would have never come had the media not gotten involved.

“The only thing that changed between the last time (the investigation was) closed and when it was reopened was the back and forth in the press between the police department and the SIU,” he said. “Without that, I don’t think anything would have happened.”

Barton is heartened by the news. But at the same time, he considers the charging of one officer to be just a “first step toward justice.”

“I don’t really feel like it’s all (one) guy’s fault,” he said. “Someone probably gave him orders to arrest me, and then I was denied medical attention, I was kept in custody for 30 hours,” he said. “None of this has anything to do with (one) guy.”

Barton said only a full-scale public inquiry will satisfy him.

“I think that’s what everyone in the city needs in order to restore faith in the police department,” he said. “I think that’s the only way it’s going to happen.”

 

 

 

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