TORONTO — A young Black man who was badly beaten by an off-duty Toronto police officer rejected an apology from the force’s interim chief on Friday, calling the move a “public relations exercise.”
Interim Chief James Ramer apologized Thursday for the department’s decision not to immediately notify the province’s police watchdog of the beating of Dafonte Miller in 2016.
The apology came after the release of an independent review of former chief Mark Saunders’ handling of the incident.
But Miller and his lawyers said Friday they were only given minutes notice about the review’s findings before police went public.
“Sincere apologies are important, public relations exercises are not,” Miller said in a statement through his lawyer, Julian Falconer.
“I have never heard from former Chief Saunders. Until yesterday morning, minutes before he went public, I had never heard of Interim Chief Ramer. Sadly, this does nothing to build bridges — they are simply making it worse for me and my family.”
Const. Michael Theriault has been convicted of assault in the 2016 incident but acquitted of the more serious charge of aggravated assault, as well as obstruction of justice.
The investigation into Saunders was completed by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director and alleged the former chief breached the Police Services Act by not reporting the incident to the Special Investigations Unit.
But the report found Saunders was kept in the dark about the incident for five months, Falconer said.
“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,” he said.
Falconer said more independent investigations are underway regarding the Toronto police’s internal response to the incident.