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Toronto Toronto police face human-rights complaint over alleged beating

A Toronto Police badge is seen during a graduation ceremony on May 14, 2014.

MARK BLINCH/The Globe and Mail

Rohan Roberts, 41, says he was stopped by police in the early morning hours near his high-rise in the Jane Street and Finch Avenue West area last December, and asked for identification. But he says after he complained to the officers that police "always like to harass people," they responded by arresting him, handcuffing him and then beating him.

The allegations, which have not been proved in court, are contained in a complaint Mr. Roberts has filed with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario that alleges he was "racially profiled" and requests $100,000 in compensation. The complaint also calls for changes to the police procedure known as "carding."

The complaint comes amid a raging citywide debate over carding – stopping and questioning people who are not under arrest – a practice that critics charge disproportionately affects black men.

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"There's good police and bad police. I think those guys are just bad. I don't know what's wrong with them," Mr. Roberts, a warehouse worker, told reporters on Thursday in the office of his lawyer, Selwyn Pieters.

Police initially had Mr. Roberts himself charged with assaulting police while resisting arrest and uttering death threats, something Mr. Pieters says is common in this kind of incident. In April, Mr. Pieters said, the Crown withdrew the charges, citing a lack of evidence. Mr. Roberts denies ever threatening the officers.

According to his complaint, Mr. Roberts left his 12-storey public housing complex through a fire exit around 1:30 a.m. on Dec. 16, heading to a friend's birthday party. He saw a police cruiser, its lights off, following him as he walked in the building's parking lot.

The officers in the cruiser, identified in the document as Constables Andrew Keown and Ryan D'Sena, demanded Mr. Roberts produce identification and asked him whether he had marijuana or was smoking marijuana, and he said no. After apparently checking his ID on police databases, they returned it to him and told him he was free to go.

Mr. Roberts, who says he has been stopped by police in his neighbourhood numerous times, claims he then said to the officers: "You guys always like to harass people."

One of the officers then accused him of saying something vulgar, before they rushed him, handcuffed him and dragged him to a grassy area where, Mr. Roberts claims, he was beaten.

At some point, neighbours went to get Mr. Roberts's mother, who is in a wheelchair, but the officers moved the wheelchair out of the area, the document says.

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Police then took Mr. Roberts, sitting handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser, to a nearby school parking lot. He says they asked him whether he thought they were racist. He answered yes, and the officer driving the car accelerated and then braked suddenly, causing Mr. Roberts to hit his face on the screen between the car's front and back seats, the complaint alleges.

Mr. Roberts says he was treated, while remaining handcuffed and surrounded by police, at Humber River Regional Hospital, and ended up with a cut over his eye, and bruises on his face and chest.

At least one of the two officers named in the complaint was also involved in a confrontation in the same neighbourhood in January that was partly caught on a cellphone video. In that case, another man, Michael Duru, claims he was grabbed and punched by officers. He now faces a charge of obstructing police and assaulting police to resist arrest. Mr. Pieters, who is acting for Mr. Duru, says police have launched an internal investigation.

A police spokeswoman could not immediately confirm that, or provide any other information.

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