A Toronto police officer, who was accused of using unnecessary force during the arrest of a protestor, has been found guilty of assault with a weapon. Constable Babak Andalib-Goortani was caught on camera striking a man with a baton while he was subdued and pinned to the ground. In a well-publicized case, Constable Andalib-Goortani was convicted in the Ontario Court of Justice of using excessive force in the execution of his duties on G20 protestor, Adam Nobody.
The Crown argued that Andalib-Goortani was overwhelmed by the anarchic conditions of some parts of Downtown Toronto during the protests, and had misdirected his anger at Mr. Nobody. The G20 had spurred some of the worst politically-charged clashes between protestors and police in Toronto’s history. Marred in chaos, the video shows Andalib-Goortani repeatedly jabbing Nobody with his baton. Constable Andalib-Goortani had admitted to striking Mr. Nobody in the legs during the melee but had claimed he had done so to restore order after Mr. Nobody was resisting arrest.
Mr. Nobody, a 30-year old stage manager, testified that he was not actively involved in the protests and was a curious bystander. In an agreement statement of facts filed at the trial, the Crown had conceded that there were reasonable grounds to detain and arrest Mr. Nobody, as alcohol was in play and he was verbally confrontational towards the police. The defense pointed out that Mr. Nobody had malicious intention and was a trouble maker and cited his Facebook page, where he had publicly posted an image depicting some sort of explosion at the G20 on the social media website. Mr. Nobody is planning to file a civil suit against the Toronto police. In this trial, the judge had specifically questioned the reliability of some of the observations of three officers who testified on behalf of Const. Andalib-Goortani.
Edward Prutschi, a criminal lawyer and partner at Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman criminal law firm, was a special guest on CFRB NewsTalk 1010 to discuss today’s guilty verdict of Consta. Andalib-Goortani. Mr. Prutschi opens up and talks about the verdict being somewhat surprising, to most observers, because we have a tendency to believe that police officers are always acting appropriately and within the confines of the law. Accompanying this firm belief that the public has in the police is another one where we believe that when a police officer does act in a rogue fashion, the criminal justice system will side with the police officer. Mr. Prutschi discusses the responsible use of that force and what that entails. Furthermore, Mr. Prutschi discusses the recent trend where the ubiquitous nature of mobile phones and video technologies means that police conduct is often recorded and shared across multiple media platforms, and there is a corresponding rise in accountability in how they ought to behave.
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