A Toronto officer has been accused of beating a second person with his baton at last year's G20 protests and, this time, it was the police themselves who laid the charge.
Constable Babak Andalib-Goortani, a 30-year-old front-line officer posted to suburban 31 division, was arrested Tuesday and charged with hitting a woman on June 26 at Queen's Park. Police said they began investigating Jan. 21 after getting tipped off by the provincial Office of the Independent Police Review Director.
Constable Andalib-Goortani, has three years' experience and is currently assigned to a desk job. He was charged last month with hitting Adam Nobody, a 27-year-old stage designer, with his baton. The case of Mr. Nobody, who was left with a broken nose and shattered cheekbone, was handled by the Special Investigations Unit, as it represented a serious injury.
The OIPRD handles less serious complaints and, unlike the SIU, does not have the power to order charges. Instead, it makes reports on such incidents and can make recommendations on more systemic cases of alleged police abuse of power.
Police declined to release the identity of the woman at the centre of the most recent charge, but there's much speculation that it may be Wyndham Bettencourt-McCarthy, a writer for the Torontoist blog.
Ms. Bettencourt-McCarthy filed a complaint after she alleged an officer whacked her with his baton in an unprovoked attack. She went public with her story, writing an account of the incident for a police accountability website and giving a videoed statement that was posted online.
The writer was at Queen's Park live-blogging the protests for Torontoist when, shortly before 7:30 p.m., police started grabbing protesters and pulling them behind their lines. She wrote that, as she ran away, an officer came up from behind and hit her above her hip.
"While I was struck, I was incredibly surprised and caught off guard, because at that point, I hadn't yelled anything at an officer, I hadn't looked an officer in the eye, I didn't have anything in my hand," she said in the video.
Photos supplied by her to the website show a baton-wielding officer with his nametag removed coming up from behind; another shows a large bruise above her hip. Ms. Bettencourt-McCarthy could not be reached for comment Wednesday, as she was out of the country without telephone or e-mail access.
Activists and civil libertarians, meanwhile, feared the consequences of a lone officer becoming the symbol of summit-related brutality allegations.
"It's taken so much to get charges on one officer," said Nathalie Des Rosiers of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. "Our concern is that the drive to find individual officers as being the scapegoats means more systemic things, concerning the communications and the orders, are not being looked at."
Constable Andalib-Goortani, who faces a charge of assault with a weapon in each case, is set to make his first court appearance on March 7 in the current incident. His next court date in the Nobody case is on Feb. 28.