Toronto cop found guilty of assaulting G20 protester with weapon
Published Thursday, September 12, 2013 5:58AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 12, 2013 11:27PM EDT
The Toronto police officer accused of using unnecessary force during the arrest of G20 protestor Adam Nobody has been found guilty of assault with a weapon, a judge ruled Thursday.
Const. Babak Andalib-Goortani, who was caught on video using his baton on Nobody after he was wrestled to the ground by police at a G20 demonstration three years ago, had pleaded not guilty to the charge.
In testimony earlier this summer, Andalib-Goortani said he used his baton because Nobody was resisting arrest.
The Crown had argued Andalib-Goortani was overwhelmed by the chaos that day and "lashed out" at Nobody, jabbing the then 27-year-old after he was already on the ground.
Andalib-Goortani's lawyer told court his client had witnessed four other police officers struggling to restrain Nobody before he jabbed Nobody with his baton three times.
But Judge Louise Botham said a police officer "is not entitled to use unlimited force to effect an arrest."
Botham said Andalib-Goortani’s explanation of why the baton was used is simply an “after-the-fact attempt to justify his blows.”
"I accept that in a dynamic situation, arrests need to occur quickly and officers may well need to use force to ensure that happens," she said. "(But) even on the defendant's evidence, the resistance offered by Adam Nobody was minimal."
A photo of Nobody's torso taken not long after the G20 protest shows three bruises on his right side.
Andalib-Goortani is the first Toronto police officer to be convicted in connection with the G20 riots.
As Thursday's verdict was read, Nobody clapped in the courtroom.
Asked if he was satisfied with the verdict, he later said that he still had a lot of work ahead of him.
"There’s still… other officers who beat the crap out of me that day," Nobody told reporters. "I’m still after them…. I have civil action, plus there's a police tribunal."
"Hopefully this helps vindicate the 1,100 people that were arrested and forced upon that day, including myself," Nobody said outside court.
More than 1,000 people were detained by police officers that weekend after some protesters broke away from a peaceful demonstration, smashing windows and burning police cruisers in downtown Toronto. The vast majority of them were released without charge within 24 hours.
According to Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, Andalib-Goortani is "very distraught" and "very crushed" by Thursday’s verdict.
"We're going to have counsel go over it (the verdict) and then if there are grounds for appeal, we'll be taking that avenue."
McCormack said he disagreed with the judge’s verdict.
“We do stand by the system, we’ve always stated that position. But in the case we just feel that the judge came to the wrong conclusion.”
Following the verdict, police Chief Bill Blair said the public’s trust in the police force is “critical.”
“I’m always concerned when any incident might detract from the public perception of their police service,” he told reporters.
“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,” Blair said.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Nov. 8.
Andalib-Goortani is currently on restricted duties.
With files from The Canadian Press