A Toronto constable has been found guilty of assault with a weapon after he struck a man with a baton while he was pinned to the ground by several officers during the G20 protests in Toronto in 2010.
Constable Babak Andalib-Goortani was convicted Thursday, in the high-profile case of protester Adam Nobody, whose arrest was captured on video while he was kicked, punched and struck in the face with a knee.
“The resistance offered by Mr. Nobody was minimal … A police officer is not entitled to use unlimited force to effect arrest,” Ontario Court Justice Louise Botham said in her decision. “I do not believe … that any of the blows struck by the defendant were proportionate or necessary.”
The video evidence was “limited but cogent,” the judge said.
“Hopefully, this helps vindicate the 1,100 people that were arrested and forced upon that day, including myself,” Mr. Nobody said outside court.
“Justice is served and officers, you know, they can’t get away with stuff like this. They can’t attack citizens and it just feels really great right now. I’m elated.”
Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, said the officer’s counsel will see whether there are grounds for appeal. “We feel that the judge got it wrong,” Mr. McCormack said in an interview.
The 33-year-old constable had testified that he used his telescopic baton when he saw that Mr. Nobody was resisting other officers. At the same time, Constable Andalib-Goortani said he didn’t see how many punches and kicks were administered by his colleagues.
The judge noted that contradiction. “His explanation that he was responding to Adam Nobody’s resistance is nothing more than an after-the-fact attempt to justify his blows.”
The constable was part of a mobile squad called to deal with protesters on the lawn of Queen’s Park, in the early evening of June 26, 2010.
Mr. Nobody, a 30-year-old stage manager, testified that he was an observer who biked to the scene, carrying a bottle filled with water and rye whisky. The police ordered the crowd to move and the bottle was knocked out of his hand. He challenged the officers but left, returning later with beer and a piece of bristol board to make a sign.
In an agreed statement of facts filed at the trial, the Crown said that there were reasonable and probable grounds to arrest Mr. Nobody.
However, the judge said in her ruling that, while he was “clearly verbally confrontational … the reality is that this case does not stand or fall on Adam Nobody’s testimony.”
The fact that he was struck by police was conceded as it was captured on video, Justice Botham said. “If a police officer uses more force than is necessary in the execution of his duties, then that use of force amounts to an assault.”
The judge also said she was surprised by the testimony of Inspector Brian O’Connor, Inspector Gerald Cashman and Sergeant Jeffrey Alderdice, who said they had “vivid recollection” of Mr. Nobody as a trouble maker even though their notes made no mention of him.
“I am less persuaded as to the reliability of some of the observations that the officers claim to have made,” Justice Botham wrote.
She also said it was curious that Constable Andalib-Goortani wasn’t wearing his name tag or a badge number the day of the protests.
The sentencing hearing will take place Nov. 8.
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair refused to comment specifically on the case after a Toronto Police Services Board meeting Thursday, but said the public’s trust is critical to everything the police service does.
“I’m always concerned when any incident might detract from the public’s perception of their police service,” he said. “But I want to assure everybody, we have dedicated public servants in our organization, decent men and women who go out and do that job with courage and conviction and a sense of duty and work very hard to keep our city safe.”
Another officer, Constable Glenn Weddell, who was alleged to have shoved and hit a protester during the G20, was found not guilty of assault in May.
With reports from Sahar Fatima and The Canadian Press