There’s been a delay in the sentencing of a Hamilton police officer who’s been found guilty of Police Services Act (PSA) charges in connection with the arrest of two photojournalists three years ago.
Const. Jeff Todoruck was charged following an incident in May 2017 when then-Global News videojournalist Jeremy Cohn and freelance camera operator Dave Ritchie were arrested at the scene of a fatal crash in Waterdown that claimed the life of 10-year-old Jasmin Hanif.
Earlier this year, Todoruck was found guilty of four of five PSA charges: one count of discreditable conduct, two counts of neglect of duty, and one of unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority.
Todoruck was supposed to be present for a sentencing hearing on Tuesday, during which possible penalties would be discussed, but he didn’t show up.
Global News director Mackay Taggart, who filed the complaint to the OIPRD, said he was frustrated when hearing officer Peter Lennox told those gathered for the hearing that the matter would be adjourned until Todoruck could be present to represent himself. The suggestion to adjourn the hearing was made by the prosecutor, Brian Duxbury.
“I understand the prosecutor’s desire to have him be present for all of the proceedings,” Taggart said.
“It really seems to me as though (Todoruck) is not taking this process seriously, not taking the conviction seriously, and I’m concerned that after three years and three months, that we are getting nowhere on this issue.”
In an emailed statement, Hamilton Police spokesperson Jackie Penman confirmed that Const. Todoruck is on leave, but said the service would not be making any further comment on his employment status.
A new date for a hearing will be discussed during a conference call on Sept. 21, where the parties involved will check in with the hearing officer.
It remains unclear whether Todoruck will be present during that call, or whether the hearing will continue to be delayed until he can attend.
Taggart said that he wants to see the matter resolved after three years, but said that at this point he’s more concerned about engaging in an open dialogue with Hamilton Police about their relationship with the media.
“What I really want to do is use this as an opportunity to sit down either with Chief Eric Girt, or another high ranking officer on his team, and talk about the systemic issues that exist between media and police,” Taggart said.
Penman’s statement on behalf of Hamilton Police said that Girt is “unable to comment on the process as long as the matter is before the hearing officer.”
She added that the Hamilton Police Service “respects the role of the media in our society and will continue to work with our media partners in a collaborative way.”