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Toronto Police Services Chief Bill Blair speaks at the Empress Hotel in Victoria. (Photographer: Matt Llewellyn - m/Matt Llewellyn for the Globe and Mail)
Toronto Police Services Chief Bill Blair speaks at the Empress Hotel in Victoria. (Photographer: Matt Llewellyn - m/Matt Llewellyn for the Globe and Mail)

Toronto police chief will not resign, says officers identified in G20 beating case Add to ...

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair says the police have identified five of the officers who are persons of interest in an alleged assault of a G20 protester.

Chief Blair held a news conference in Victoria Wednesday amid growing calls for an inquiry into police conduct into the G20, and said he has no plans to resign.

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"No I am not [resigning]" he said. "I am doing my job."

Chief Blair said his department has identified and is disciplining 91 officers for failing to display their name tags. As well, five officers accused of misconduct have been identified from photographs published in the media. He said he did not personally identify the officers.

"I can tell you my professional standards people have been working relentlessly from the moment we received that information, we've identified five of the officers and I'm very confident that by the end of the day we'll have identified all of them."

Chief Blair said he did not personally identify the officers, and asked for the public's patience while the investigation is ongoing.

"I'd like to take this opportunity to assure our citizens in Toronto and across Canada that we are pursuing all of those investigations with vigour," he "We are absolutely committed to getting to the truth, I am quite prepared to hold people accountable."

He said his organization is "co-operating fully" with a number of independent investigations. But he disputed Ontario Ombudsman André Marin's conclusion that keeping the public in the dark about the law constituted a "massive compromise of civil liberties."

"With the greatest respect to the ombudsman, I'm not aware of the evidence he bases that statement upon," he said.

"I think I've demonstrated over the past several years as the chief of police my absolute commitment to holding my people to account for their conduct. We conduct investigations, we gather the evidence and we get to the truth. I'll act on that truth and my officers know that, I want the people of Toronto to know that."

He said photos and video made public this week have been used to identify some of the officers who appear to be involved in or witnesses to the alleged beating of Adam Nobody, whose treatment by police during an altercation at Queen's Park during the summit has come under scrutiny.

Chief Blair has also been under fire after a report from the Ontario ombudsman slammed both the province and the police service over the enactment and execution of a law giving police added powers during the June summit.

A regulation amending the Public Works Protection Act applied to the area within the summit's security fence, but Chief Blair told reporters the Friday before the summit that it gave police those extra powers within five metres of the fence - an error he failed to clarify when he was informed of it later that afternoon.

"I took the steps necessary to take care of my people, but at the same time it would have been very helpful to call another press conference," he told the news conference in Victoria Wednesday. "I acknowledge the responsibility for failing to clarify that at the first opportunity."

Chief Blair told CTV Tuesday afternoon he hadn't yet read the report. He added, however, that police acted in good faith based on the legal advice they got from lawyers regarding how the Public Works Protection Act should be interpreted.

"We received a copy of the regulation from the province, my training people reviewed it, we did receive a legal interpretation at that time regarding the boundaries that it pertained to, we did our training for our officers on the basis of that interpretation. I was advised - and, quite frankly, had a very honest belief, the perimeter was five metres. And I said so when asked," he said.

"I certainly made no effort to deceive anyone or to withhold information."

Police spokesman Mark Pugash, who has noted Ontario's ombudsman has no jurisdiction over Toronto's police force, said police are doing all they can to identify people involved in Mr. Nobody's case and forwarding all information they obtain to the Special Investigations Unit, an independent body whose job is to investigate cases of serious injury involving police.

"We want to get to the truth, and anything that takes us to the truth is something that we welcome," he said, adding that anyone else with information should come forward. "Our investigators have been working on that video since it came out [Tuesday]morning, and as soon as we are in a position to give people more information, we will. ... We will not describe in detail the unfolding investigation because what will almost certainly happen is any information we come up with will go to the SIU."

SIU spokesman Frank Phillips said Wednesday the investigator in Mr. Nobody's case is still seeking information but hasn't yet identified any officers who might be witnesses or subjects of the case.

"We're still gathering evidence. We made an appeal yesterday to see if anyone could provide us with any additional information. … If we deem they have been involved in this in any way, we have to designate them as witness or subject officers and ask for or request interviews. It all has to be done in accordance with the law."

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