A large black police boot kicked the young woman in the head. Then it came to rest on her neck as she lay face down on the grass. Her hands were cuffed behind her back. Two police officers kicked her while others hit her with batons as she lay motionless.
This scene unfolded on a videotape yesterday before the jury at the trial of three men charged in connection with the 2000 riot at an antipoverty rally on the lawn of the Ontario Legislature.
While police say the woman was knocked down by police for obstructing the arrest of another demonstrator, defence lawyers suggested the video showed police brutality.
The jury viewed segments of several videos taken by police and Toronto television stations during the melee of June 15, 2000, that has become known as the Queen's Park riot.
One video showed a police officer knocking down a woman who did not appear to be part of the protesting crowd. The officer struck her in the back of the head with his forearm and continued on his way, without a backward glance to make sure she was not seriously injured.
Another police officer is seen grabbing a man by the back of his shirt and knocking him to the ground without provocation. This officer also failed to stop.
On trial for counselling people to riot is John Clarke, the main spokesman for the group that organized the protest, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty. Two other OCAP members, Gaetan Heroux and Stefan Pilipa, are charged with participating in the riot.
While police sifted through videotapes looking for evidence of violence against officers, Mr. Heroux's lawyer, Bob Kellermann, yesterday questioned who was causing the violence. "Whose riot was this?" he said outside court.
He was one of three defence lawyers yesterday who grilled Detective Sergeant Richard Stubbings, who was head of the police intelligence unit when a peaceful demonstration turned ugly, with police in riot gear battling masked protesters. By the time demonstrators abandoned their attempt to address the legislature on the problems of the province's poor and homeless, at least 40 officers and six horses were injured, in addition to an unknown number of demonstrators.
The videos clearly show that police began to use force only after protesters knocked down two sets of metal barricades and began hurling stones, bricks, water bombs and other debris at them.