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Dafonte Miller, young Black man beaten by police officer, doesn't accept apology

Last Updated Aug 7, 2020 at 2:40 pm EDT

Dafonte Miller, right, arrives alongside family ahead of his testimony at the Durham Region Courthouse in Oshawa, Ont., Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

A young Black man who was assaulted by an off-duty Toronto police officer is not accepting an apology from the force for how it initially handled the case.

Interim Toronto police chief James Ramer apologized Thursday for the department’s decision not to notify the province’s police watchdog after learning about the beating of Dafonte Miller in Whitby, Ont.

Ramer’s apology came shortly after an independent review of how then police chief Mark Saunders handled the incident.

Miller and his lawyers said they had only minutes to read through the review before Ramer went public with it, which they called a “public relations exercise.”

The review by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) found Saunders was kept in the dark about the beating of Miller for five months after the 2016 incident.

Saunders found out about the incident on May 2, 2017 when SIU invoked their mandate, according to the report. The SIU began an investigation after being contacted by Miller’s legal counsel.

This investigative report found the allegations of neglect of duty and discreditable conduct by Saunders were unsubstantiated due to insufficient evidence.

Chief Saunders also denied that he or his officers were trying to protect Theriualt by not reporting the incident to the SIU.

The decision was reportedly made by the on-call Chief’s SIU designate Insp. Peter Moreira and advised by Insp. Ed Boyd, who was the Chief’s SIU designate.

The OIPRD report say they decided not to inform SIU due to Theriault not identifying himself as a police officer during the incident and the arrest was therefore a “citizen’s arrest.”

“What the report proves is that officers subordinate of Chief Saunders, specifically the officers that were in charge of receiving information about the violent assault of a member of the public, deliberately chose to keep the SIU in the dark and therefor bypassed a timely investigation,” Falconer said.

Miller has raised numerous allegations against other various TPS and Durham police officers that will be addressed in subsequent reports. This investigate report was solely about Miller’s complaint against Saunders.

Const. Michael Theriault has been convicted of assault in the incident that left Miller with a ruptured eye.

The crown has filed an appeal in the Ontario Court of Appeal, appealing the acquittals of both Michael and Christian Theriault, who were found not guilty of aggravated assault and attempt to obstruct justice.

Falconer said Dafonte and his family welcome the appeal.