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Senior Toronto police officer guilty of G20 misconduct will give up 30 vacation days

Last Updated Jun 15, 2016 at 7:22 pm EDT

The only senior officer convicted for his role in the mass detentions and arrests at the G20 summit in Toronto six years ago will not face dismissal or demotion, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Instead, Supt. David (Mark) Fenton was sentenced to give up 30 vacation days and an official reprimand.

Fenton was convicted last year of exceeding his authority and discreditable conduct.

The 27-year veteran was in charge when hundreds of people were detained illegally during the tumultuous weekend summit.

The prosecution had called for a year-long demotion, while the defence asked for a reprimand or the docking of vacation pay.

Those detained or arrested wanted him fired.

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Retired justice John Hamilton, overseeing the misconduct tribunal, made the sentencing call.

“Dismissal would be an inapporate disposition,” Hamilton said. “It would not serve interests of the public or the Toronto Police Service.”

Hamilton said that while Fenton was not adequately trained for his role as incident commander, he was the “top dog,” and the blame can’t be placed on his superiors. Still, the fact that Fenton’s behaviour was condoned by his superiors was taken into consideration.

Hamilton also said he believed Fenton’s public apology after the G20 was “a genuine indication of remorse.”

During sentencing arguments earlier this year, lawyers for the complainants said Fenton, 56, had shown no remorse and had tried to blame everyone other than himself for the trampling of civil liberties. They said he deserved to be fired for upending the Constitution and turning the downtown core into a police state.

The prosecutor, however, said that would be too harsh and that a one-rank demotion for one year would cost him between $10,000 and $15,000 in lost pay.

Fenton’s lawyer, however, said the demotion would cost as much as $45,000 in lost wages and pension and said it would be unfair to hold his client accountable for what he called the failings of an entire senior command that had no idea how to contain the violence.

The G20 weekend was marred by a spate of vandalism in which store windows were smashed and two cruisers set alight. About 1,100 people — most peaceful protesters or innocent passersby — were detained or arrested. Many were held in deplorable conditions at a makeshift detention centre.

At the time, Fenton described the protesters as a “marauding group of terrorists.”

In a 150-page decision, Hamilton convicted Fenton after finding the officer had no reasonable grounds to order the detentions, in one case just minutes after coming on shift. Hamilton also said Fenton’s testimony was not credible.

Earlier this month, the Toronto police board asked the Supreme Court of Canada to stop two class-action lawsuits arising out of the G20 summit, arguing that the arrest claims should be treated individually and not as a group.

That argument had already been rejected by two courts, including the Ontario Court of Appeal.