Supreme Court rejects Toronto officer’s appeal over Dafonte Miller beating

Almost five years after off-duty Toronto police officer Michael Theriault assaulted Whitby’s man Dafonte Miller, Canada’s superior court rejected the officer’s request for an appeal, officially closing the long-running court case that attracted attention. national.

In a brief decision issued Thursday, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed a request by Theriault for the high court to hear an appeal of his 2020 assault conviction stemming from the violent confrontation on December 28, 2016. The court does not justify the decisions to dismiss the appeal requests.

Michael Lacy, an attorney for Theriault, said Thursday that his client processed the application as required by law and “believed it was meritorious.” There are no further avenues to seek to review the trial judge’s decision, Lacy said.

Theriault, a white officer, was sentenced to nine months in jail after being convicted of assaulting Miller, a black man, on a residential street in Whitby, not far from the Theriault family home. A judge found that the altercation started after Miller stole the change from the Theriault family’s van, and then escalated into a violent one-sided beating by Theriault against Miller. The assault left Miller blind in one eye and sparked outrage and protests over police brutality and anti-black racism.

Last year, Theriault, who was suspended without pay after being sentenced to prison, pleaded not guilty in a Toronto police disciplinary court that will ultimately decide his fate as a police officer. Proceedings were suspended pending completion of Theriault’s criminal case.

In a report to the Toronto Police Board last month, Toronto Police Chief James Ramer said the police service would seek the removal of Theriault at the hearing.

Earlier this year, the Ontario Court of Appeals dismissed Theriault’s appeal of the assault conviction and his jail sentence. The officer’s attorneys had argued in part that the trial judge, Ontario Superior Court Judge Joseph Di Luca, had made a mistake when he discovered that the racial dynamics of the incident was an aggravating factor in the sentencing. Theriault’s attorneys argued that the crime was not racially motivated and that the racial factors were a fluke.

The three-judge panel of the Ontario Court of Appeals disagreed and concluded that “Theriault’s actions as an off-duty white police officer assaulting a retreating injured young black man cannot and should not be divorced from this context. wider”.

Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and police for The Star. Contact her by email at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter: @wendygillis

Leave a Comment