Police officers will not face criminal charges in connection with six men who were injured during G20 demonstrations, Ontario's police watchdog announced Thursday.
The Special Investigations Unit, however, found there were "reasonable grounds" to believe police used excessive force that broke a man's nose in one case and that, in another instance, police used force during the arrest of a man who sustained a fractured bone under his eye. In both cases, the SIU could not lay charges because it was unable to identify the officers responsible.
The same was true in most of the incidents: Despite reviews of security camera footage, photographs and interviews with police officers, investigators identified those alleged to be responsible in only two of the six cases. In one instance, the arrest of 27-year-old Adam Nobody, the badge number written on the arrest sheet did not correspond with any in the Toronto Police Service.
This raised the concern of demonstrators' advocates, who renewed their calls for a public inquiry into the matter.
"The inability to identify officers really exposes a lack of accountability," said Graeme Norton of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. "I think it's certainly a troubling bit of news."
Police, however, argued that in such a large demonstration, it was difficult to keep track of who did what.
"You had large crowds, you had pushing, you had shoving," said Toronto Police spokesman Mark Pugash. "That an officer who was there would have seen everything, that doesn't strike me as realistic."
Mr. Pugash pointed out that it was possible the badge number was that of an officer from a different city who had been brought in for the protests.
The SIU did not respond to requests for clarification.
The six separate incidents all occurred on Saturday, June 26, the main day of protests, at various locations around Queen's Park and along Queen Street. Of the complaints received by the SIU, they were the ones where the injuries were deemed to be the most serious.
In the case of Brendan Latimer, a 19-year-old chef from Ajax, Ont., whose nose was broken when he was arrested at Queen's Park, SIU director Ian Scott wrote that "there are reasonable grounds to believe an officer used excessive force leading to injuries to the complainant," but noted the officer responsible had not been identified.
Mr. Latimer, who was brought to the ground by fleeing protesters as he stooped over to help up a woman who had been knocked down, said the officers who allegedly kicked and struck him with batons weren't wearing their nametags.
"I said 'I'm not resisting arrest,' and I was told to shut up," he said. "They just started wailing on my ribs."
He said he sat in a paddy wagon for three or four hours with a broken nose.
In Mr. Nobody's case, the SIU reviewed a YouTube video titled "Toronto G20, Peaceful Protestor Tackled and Roughed Up," which showed him being arrested at Queen's Park by six officers. Police held him face down on the ground while one officer moved a closed fist towards him in a "striking motion," the SIU wrote.
"In my view, these closed fist strikes appear to be an excessive use of force," Mr. Scott concluded.
The SIU, however, found no evidence to support Mr. Nobody's allegation that a pair of plainclothes officers later kicked him in the head.
Dorian Barton, meanwhile, said he went to College Street and University Avenue with a friend to see what was happening. As he turned to snap a photo of police on horseback, the 29-year-old was knocked over by a riot shield-toting officer and broke a bone in his upper right arm near the shoulder, he said.
"When I asked for medical attention, they laughed at me," Mr. Barton said.
He said he was held for several hours in the Eastern Avenue detention centre before being taken to hospital. Charges of obstructing a police officer and unlawful assembly were later dropped.
For months, he was unable to look for work while he waited for his injury to heal, he said, but the SIU found there wasn't enough evidence to show how the bone was broken or who the officers were.
The other cases examined were those of 42-year-old Canute Fernandes, who broke his right arm after he was knocked down as officers and protesters ran along Queen Street West; Joseph Thomson, 34, who was hit in the face by a police officer and broke his nose, near Queen and Spadina Avenue; and Norman Marcos, 43, who was trying to escape advancing police at Queen's Park when he was hit from behind by what might have been a police baton, breaking his finger.
A review is under way by the Toronto Police Services Board and several class-action lawsuits are pending, but a judicial inquiry has not been called.