It’s the video that shocked a city. Recorded by a citizen who says he feared for a man’s life while watching a Toronto Police Sergeant repeatedly taser and stomp on what appeared to be, an unresponsive, limp suspect, face down on the cold January pavement near Dundas Street East and Church Street.
Waseem Khan, the Torontonian who recorded the troubling incident says he feels like he caught Toronto Police with “their hand in the cookie jar” though when officers turned their attention to him, threatening to confiscate his phone and the video on it, he knew he had to do something.
Khan brought the video straight to CityNews, he also filed a complaint on the officers’ conduct to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD). The review is now complete and the report outlines serious allegations of police misconduct.
In the summary of the OIPRD’s report, exclusively obtained by CityNews, it alleges Sergeant Eduardo Miranda, the cop who tasered and repeatedly stomped on the suspect, used “excessive force.”
It also alleges the 51 division Sergeant showed “Discreditable Conduct” when he ordered a constable to remove Khan and his phone from the scene even though he was legally allowed to record the incident.
OIPRD has now advised Chief Saunders to begin a disciplinary hearing for Sgt. Miranda. Penalties could include loss of pay, a suspension or even dismissal from the force.
The report also alleges two other constables on scene that day engaged in “Discreditable Conduct” for the way they spoke to Khan. One officer alleged Khan could “get AIDS” if the suspect spat on him.
The fourth and final allegation finds Sergeant Miranda and five constables all on scene that morning showed “Neglect of Duty” for failing “to activate the in-car camera system and microphones upon arriving at the scene of the incident contrary to Police orders.”
It is conduct, which Khan’s lawyer Selwyn Pieters says, shows the need for systemic changes.
“Here we have six police officers on the scene of a situation. They all had vehicles with in-car cameras, with in-car dash cams and none of them turned on those cameras. And they were trying to force somebody who had a cellphone camera recording, they were trying to force that person off the street and seize the camera?”
It was the morning of January 24th when a female Toronto Police officer responded to a call about a man spitting on an employee at a downtown homeless shelter. When the officer approached the suspect, 43-year-old Andrew Henry, she was allegedly punched. Construction workers jumped in to help.
Henry, who cops slapped with nine charges, was tossed in the back of a cruiser, where he allegedly kicked out a window. That’s when its alleged officers dragged him back out onto the pavement and the allegations of excessive force began.
Khan says Henry’s actions that day didn’t justify the actions of six Toronto police officers.
“That doesn’t take away his rights as a citizen. That doesn’t change whether or not he’s a human being or a civilian, or whether or not police have to be held accountable when they are from, what I saw, going above the law.”
Pieters says the OPRID findings show “how powerful one person is with a cellphone camera.”
The charges facing the officers aren’t criminal. The allegations against the constables can be dealt with internally. While the allegations against Sgt. Miranda will be going to a hearing. Chief Saunders gets to pick both the prosecutor and the adjudicator which can be either a retired cop or retired judge.
It’s a system Pieters believes is flawed and hopes will be fixed when the Police Services Act is amended in about a year from now. “The Chief of Police has a lot of power in terms of how a hearing process unfolds. We have to see who will be the person selected to hear the case.”
As for Khan he wonders what would have happened to Henry had he not been recording the incident. He says he ran down the street and into CityNews that January morning “100 per cent convinced” they were going to take his phone.
“Whatever they were going to do with it I don’t know. I wanted to make sure that video was put somewhere safe and CityTV was there and that’s where I went.”
Khan will be a witness at Sergeant Eduardo Miranda’s upcoming hearing which has been scheduled for September 26th.