A Facebook post which alleges a random beating of two young men on Bloor Street West is not only the subject of a police investigation but has also become a trial by social media.
It’s been shared, liked and commented on more than 10,000 times on Facebook and Reddit. Many of those commenting have already labeled the alleged attack a hate crime and have criticized police for not taking it seriously.
Trung Nguyen’s Facebook post claims responding officers called his friend Tyler Redpath a liar and says they were discouraged from filing police reports.
Attached are pictures of Nguyen’s wounds. You can see blood on the hospital bed, a goose egg above his left eye and a gash in the side his head.
Several people contacted our newsroom asking us to look into this. So, we did, and we found the story is not as clear cut as it first appears.
The post begins, “Dear Friends and Family, Last night Tyler and I were attacked on our way home from a Thanksgiving dinner.”
It goes on to claim the two were heckled as they walked by a patio around 2 a.m. Friday. They were then followed and beaten up by a random stranger, writes Nguyen.
“He begins to physically assault us when we ignore him,” he continues.
“Tyler endures a sucker punch to the face and I sustain injuries to my head and knee. I black out and begin seizuring from my injuries.”
But some witnesses claim the attack never happened.
Katie, a server at The Wicket near Bloor and Keele, and Ken, a regular at the bar, said they saw the incident unfold and wanted to tell their side of the story after reading the post on social media.
“Basically, as my friends and I were standing on the sidewalk having a cigarette, three guys ran past us and smacked us on the ass,” Katie says. “They all seemed to be laughing and having a good time. We assumed they were together.”
According to Ken, the trio then ran across the street and tried to hop a chain fence at the Midas repair shop at Bloor and Indian Grove, when one of them tripped over the chain and fell.
“At first we were laughing, until we noticed he wasn’t moving,” said Ken. “Katie went over to help him.”
Nguyen was unconscious and was taken to hospital by ambulance.
The Facebook post does acknowledge the witnesses’ story.
“The hecklers report to police that we are friends with our attacker and that I sustained my injuries as a result of sexually harassing them and tripping as I ran away,” Trung writes. “This is obviously not true.”
CityNews reached out to Nguyen and Redpath numerous times over the last several days for more details but they did not respond.
Toronto police confirm they have been investigating the incident since they were called to the scene on Friday morning.
“What you have seen on the Internet and Facebook and the recollections from witnesses, they differ.” Const. Craig Brister said.
Investigators now have the task of wading through conflicting information on a story that is now going viral here in Toronto.
“The big problem we run into is that when we look at witness accounts, we want to speak to a witness when they haven’t been influenced by another source,” Brister said. “It takes time to wade through information. That’s why investigations take time.”
Police have been searching the neighbourhood for video from that night, but said most of the cameras along that stretch are not in working order.