Supported by OHRC and Community Coalition, Miller Family Files OIPRD Complaint Against Theriaults, Toronto and Durham Police, and Calls for Systemic Review by OIPRD
On August 16, 2017, Falconers LLP was joined by a coalition of community and advocacy groups, as well as the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), to release a joint statement calling on the Government of Ontario and police oversight bodies to immediately implement recommendations of the Honourable Justice Michael Tulloch from his Report of the Independent Police Oversight Review. This coalition and the OHRC have come together in response to the recent public revelations of the vicious and unprovoked December 28, 2016, assault on 19-year-old Black youth, Dafonte Miller, at the hands of Toronto Police Service Officer Michael Theriault and his brother, Christian Theriault. Following an SIU investigation into the incident, in late July 2017, both Theriaults were charged with aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and public mischief.
In addition to calling for the immediate implementation of certain critical police oversight recommendations made by Justice Tulloch, Dafonte Miller and his family are also joined by the coalition and the OHRC in support of the filing of an Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) conduct complaint against Officer Theriault, as well as the Toronto and Durham police involved in this investigation, including Officer Theriault’s father, John Theriault, a senior officer of more than 30 years working in the professional standards unit of the TPS. The Miller family is also calling for the OIPRD to conduct a systemic review into Toronto and Durham police’s handling of the Dafonte Miller investigation in light of their decisions not to notify the SIU, despite Dafonte Millers obvious catastrophic injuries.
Falconers LLP represents Dafonte Miller and his family. Lawyer, Julian Falconer, had this to say about the matter:
The calculated, callous and unconscionable actions of both Toronto and Durham police in their deliberate avoidance of an SIU investigation of Dafonte Miller’s catastrophic injuries at the hands of Constable Mike Theriault and his brother, Christian Theriault represent the most compelling example of what is wrong with independent investigations of police in Ontario.
The failure to interview credible and independent eye witnesses who presented themselves at the scene to Durham Police, the blind acceptance of absurd accounts by the attackers of Dafonte Miller, the wrongful and illegal arrest of the victim Dafonte Miller and the deliberate exclusion of the Special Investigations Unit are all undeniable realities of the Dafonte Miller case.
Dafonte Miller and his family have, as of late yesterday, filed conduct and systemic review complaints with the Ontario Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) against both the Durham and Toronto Police Service seeking a full investigation of what the complainants say was an orchestrated cover-up motivated by corrupt purposes and enabled by weak police oversight legislation.
The coalition that has come together in light of the Dafonte Miller matter calls on the Government to introduce legislative changes to:
- Clarify the process for Special Investigations Unit (SIU) notification, and the duty of police to cooperate with the SIU
- Permit the SIU to refer conduct matters to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD)
- Allow the OIPRD to initiate investigations in the public interest even if no complaint
The coalition also calls on the SIU, OIPRD and Ontario Civilian Police Commission to immediately and transparently implement recommendations that do not need legislative change or significant extra resources, including:
- Mandatory social and cultural competency training, in partnership with Indigenous and other community organizations
- Collecting race-based and other demographic data
- Forming meaningful and equitable partnerships with Indigenous organizations.
Coalition members include:
- Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, Acting Executive Director, Canadian Civil Liberties Association
- Jennifer Chambers, Executive Director, Empowerment Council
- Julian Falconer, Principal, Falconers LLP
- Sharmaine Hall, Executive Director, Human Rights Legal Support Centr
- Emily Hill, Interim Legal Advocacy Director, Aboriginal Legal Services
- Renu Mandhane, Chief Commissioner, Ontario Human Rights Commission
- Howard F. Morton, Q.C., Law Union of Ontari
- Dr. Alok Mukherjee, Distinguished Visiting Professor, Department of Criminology, Ryerson University
- Aseefa Sarang, Executive Director, Across Boundaries: An Ethnoracial Mental
- Knia Singh, Osgoode Society Against Institutional InjusticAnita Szigeti, President, Law and Mental Disorder Association