This past fall, as Ontario's police watchdog unsuccessfully tried to identify officers accused of roughing up a G20 protester, Constable Babak Andalib-Goortani was on a humanitarian mission delivering de-commissioned ambulances to El Salvador.
The 30-year-old policeman was charged Tuesday, after a second probe by the Special Investigations Unit, with assaulting Adam Nobody during the summit last June.
So far, few details on his life and career have emerged. A travel blog, however, documents his participation in the Caravan of Hope, in which a crew of 19 drove seven ambulances thousands of kilometres from Toronto to Central America, passing through the United States and Mexico on the way.
Rev. Hernan Astudillo, who organizes the effort, said the officer navigated for the group. He described him as quiet, respectful and generous, with a penchant for buying food to share. He also went by "Bob" or "Bobby," he said.
"I could see he was a good man with a good heart," Father Astudillo said.
In his blog, peppered with detailed descriptions of the mountains of Mexico, Constable Andalib-Goortani writes fondly of people met along the way.
"Poverty is rampant along the countryside but the people still have smiles on their faces," he writes in a Nov. 6 post. "Much is to be learned here for us who are so fortunate with our possessions and services provided to us in our hometowns."
He expresses exasperation with some Mexican officials who tried to squeeze money out of travellers, but writes of the friendliness of the locals, including two police officers who were amazed his group had driven all the way from Canada.
At the end of the trip, the crew had dinner with El Salvador's vice-president, Father Astudillo said. The politician presented an award of recognition for the city of Toronto, which Constable Andalib-Goortani and a fellow officer accepted, later to be passed on to city council.
On Wednesday, the officer went to the SIU offices in a Toronto suburb to formally collect a summons to appear in court Jan. 24.
Jimmy Lee, his lawyer, confirmed that his client had worked as a front-line patrol officer, responding to emergency calls at suburban 31 division.
The officer's father and wife did not respond to requests for comment; a Richmond Hill condominium owned by him did not appear to have a listed phone number.
In late November, the SIU concluded its first investigation into Mr. Nobody's case by saying that there had "probably" been an excessive police use of force, but it could not identify any of the officers allegedly involved. After a war of words with Toronto's police chief, the watchdog re-opened the case, gathered more evidence and had Constable Andalib-Goortani charged.Report Typo/Error