A rally was held for Dafonte Miller on Thursday, as the men accused of beating him – one of them a Toronto police officer – are set to have their case heard.
The rally, hosted by Anti-Racist Network of Durham Region, took place at the Oshawa Courthouse on Bond Street.
“Durham Region you can’t hide, we can see your racist side,” demonstrators chanted. They said they planned to attend Thursday’s hearing.
Const. Michael Theriault and his brother Christian Theriault allegedly attacked Miller near Thickson Road and William Stephenson Drive in Whitby in December 2016. Miller was 19 years old at the time. He suffered broken bones and lost the vision in his left eye.
Both brothers are charged with aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, and public mischief. They did not appear in court on Thursday. The judge said Thursday that both men must appear for their pre-trial hearing on Sept. 27.
Miller’s lawyer alleges there was a cover-up in the entire investigation: Michael and Christian’s father works for the Professional Standards Unit in Toronto, and allegedly repeatedly called Durham police about the case. Both Toronto police and Durham police are named in the complaint Miller’s lawyer filed with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director.
The Special Investigations Unit wasn’t notified of the alleged incident until months later and has since charged the brothers with assault and other offences.
The Canadian Press reports that on that December night, “Christian Theriault asked Miller and his friends if they lived in the area. When the teen said he lived down the road, Michael Theriault asked why they were in the area, the lawyers allege. The constable allegedly said he was an off-duty officer and could ask whatever he wanted, they allege.
It’s alleged the brothers then chased Miller, saying they had seen kids breaking into their vehicle earlier. Miller told them they had the wrong guy, but the pair threw him to the ground and started kicking him in the head and back, his lawyers allege.
When Miller tried to stand up, he was placed in a headlock and repeatedly struck in the face with a metal pipe, they allege.
Miller eventually banged on the door of a nearby home crying for help but his lawyers allege the brothers caught up with him and continued to hit him. The pair called 911 and said they arrested someone who was breaking into their vehicle, according to the allegations. The dispatcher was told that Michael Theriault was an off-duty Toronto officer.
Miller also called 911 but his phone was taken away, they allege.
The teen’s left eye was knocked out of its socket and split into four, his lawyers say. He also suffered a broken nose, broken orbital bone, bruised ribs, reduced vision in his right eye and a fractured wrist, they say.
Miller was charged with assault with a weapon, possession of a dangerous weapon, theft under $5,000 and possession of marijuana. The charges were withdrawn in May.”
The allegations have not been proven in court.