Dafonte Miller Holds Police to Account in Disciplinary Hearings
On Monday January 30, 2023, a Disciplinary Hearing under the Police Services Act found Detective Constable Craig Willis of the Durham Regional Police Service (DRPS) guilty for neglect of duty in conducting a substandard investigation, in respect of the injuries Dafonte Miller received at the hands of convicted former Toronto Police Officer Michael Theriault.
Det./Cst. Willis was in charge of the initial DRPS investigation following the events of December 28, 2017, where off-duty Toronto Police Officer Michael Theriault brutally assaulted Dafonte Miller, resulting in catastrophic injuries including the loss of his left eye.
During the investigation, Det./Cst. Willis accepted the version of events provided by Michael Theriault and his brother Christian without questioning it and failed to take any meaningful steps to investigate Dafonte’s injuries or to determine if the force used to cause those injuries was justified and proportionate.
Falconers LLP represented the public complainant, Dafonte and his family, in this matter. Counsel Asha James advocated for a higher penalty than the joint submission by the prosecution and counsel for Det./Cst. Willis considering the racial dynamics at play in this case, and the fact that Det./Cst. Willis’ neglect of duty initially shielded a police officer from the consequences of his actions.
Although the tribunal imposed the 60-hour penalty, a conviction in the first disciplinary hearing for this matter signifies the serious flaws in DRPS’ investigation.
Falconers LLP will continue to hold the DRPS to account when three more officers involved in the investigation have their disciplinary hearings this spring.