Toronto’s interim police chief is apologizing for the force’s decision not to call in the province’s police watchdog after an off-duty officer assaulted a young Black man.
James Ramer says police didn’t notify the Special Investigations Unit about the beating of Dafonte Miller because Const. Michael Theriault was off-duty at the time of the incident.
In his first press conference as interim chief, Ramer said the force made the wrong decision and apologized.
Theriault was eventually convicted of assault in the beating of Miller in 2016.
Ramer says police will change their policy to explicitly state that the SIU must be notified when either on- or off-duty officers are involved in an incident that leads to a death, serious injury or alleged sexual assault.
He says addressing anti-Black systemic racism will be one of his priorities in the interim leadership position.
The Toronto Police Services Board said it “strongly supports the approach Chief Ramer has taken in this regard.”
“The trust between police and community is of the utmost importance and where work must be done to rebuild broken trust, this must be our highest priority,” the board said in a statement. “We echo the apology that has been made to Mr. Miller and to the community at large, and we stand behind Chief Ramer and the Service in committing ourselves to this work.”
Mayor John Tory called Ramer’s apology an “important step towards repairing trust, greater accountability and the reform that the police service and the police services board has committed to.”