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Toronto G20 cop sentenced to 45 days in jail

(Image: Ron Bulovs)

(Image: Ron Bulovs)

More than three years after the fact, the courts are still busy settling scores from that one weekend in June 2010 when Barack Obama came to town and spied on everyone. (You may know it as the G20 Summit.)

The Canadian Press reports that Constable Babak Andalib-Goortani was sentenced to 45 days in jail for using excessive force on a protester named Adam Nobody. Justice Louise Botham found Andalib-Goortani’s claims that Nobody was resisting arrest to be unconvincing. The officer is out on $7500 bail pending an appeal.

It’s unusual for Toronto police officers to receive jail sentences for things they do while on duty. Constable Glenn Weddell, for instance, faced similar assault charges after a run-in with a protester during the G20 weekend, and was acquitted in May. The difference in Andalib-Goortani’s case? Maybe the fact that there was decent video of the assault. Call it iPhone justice.

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Women accuse G20 police of equating unruly leg hair with unruly behaviour

During the G20 Summit in Toronto, being a lady with hairy legs was enough to attract police attention—that’s what a group of Hamilton women say, anyway. They’re among seven people who have filed a $1.4-million claim against police, saying they were stopped outside while exiting a Yonge Street restaurant. One woman also alleges she was sexually assaulted during a roadside strip search. Although none of the claims have been proven in court, an investigation by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director found evidence that at least one policeman, Constable James Ure, noticed the furry lower limbs. In his arrest notes, he wrote that “all parties appear to be protesters; back packs; clothing and females all have hairy legs.” The suit could be the last in the wave of litigation over police actions during the summit—the two-year limitation period ran out in late June, just after this suit was filed. [CBC News]

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Officer Bubbles is back—and he’s identifying rough cops from the G20

Adam Josephs, the internet-famous “Officer Bubbles,” is in the news again, but for keeping the police force accountable rather than starring in satirical cartoons. The Toronto Star reports that Josephs was a witness for the Independent Police Review director’s recent (and scathing) report, helping to identify the officers who allegedly roughed up freelance journalist Jesse Rosenfeld while he was reporting on the kettling incident outside the Novotel Hotel. According to TVO’s Steve Paikin, who was at the scene, two police officers refused to recognize Rosenfeld’s “alternative media pass” and restrained him, while a third punched him in the stomach and elbowed him in the back. Thanks to the witness statements and Josephs’ identification, Constable Michael Martinez will face a police tribunal hearing for using “unnecessary force.” Justice! Though Paikin and Josephs reportedly had a chat about Josephs’ Bubbles infamy when they ran into each other outside the Princess of Wales Theatre, we’re hoping for a reunion of both high-profile witnesses on The Agenda[Toronto Star]

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Bill Blair finally admits that “things were not done well” at the G20 summit

(Image: Ibagli)

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair was initially defensive about Gerry McNeilly’s scathing Independent Police Review report on G20 security, but Blair amended that response in an open letter to the people of Toronto issued Friday. The police chief admitted there were “serious deficiencies” in the force’s handling of protesters: “I fully acknowledge that there were things that were not done well. We have learned from these shortcomings… As the chief of police, I accept responsibility for the actions of the Toronto Police Service and its members.” No, Blair didn’t exactly apologize (as some have insisted he ought to) or offer to step down. But he did recognize there were problems, claimed responsibility and made eight more applications to the Police Services Board to lay disciplinary charges against officers (on top of the hearings already set for eight constables facing unlawful arrest and use of unnecessary force charges). With those misconduct hearings set to be open to the public, and Justice John Morden’s independent civilian review slated for June, we imagine Blair is in for more uncomfortable media scrutiny this summer. [National Post]

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Senior commanders and front-line constables facing disciplinary charges over G20 tactics

(Image: Alfred Ng from the Torontolife.com Flickr pool)

Now that the Independent Police Review Director’s report on G20 policing has been released, both top brass and front-line officers will be facing disciplinary charges—nearly two years after the crackdown on protesters. The IPR director investigated 207 complaints against police, and a little over half of those (107, to be exact) led to disciplinary charges, 96 of which were deemed to be serious. The police review office recommended disciplinary tribunals for commanders with the Toronto Police Service (it’s still too early in the process to release names and numbers, but the charges will affect no more than six commanders). And it’s not just high-ranking officers who could get fingered: the director also ordered charges against 25 rank-and-file officers. So far, eight constables (Vincent Wong, Blair Begbie, Alan Li, Donald Stratton, Michael Kirpoff, Ryan Simpson, Jason Crawford and Michael Martinez) will face the disciplinary tribunal in June. Which should mean we’ll be heading into the third consecutive summer of G20 coverage. [Globe and Mail]

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A report slams the G20 police response—but says most officers acted properly

(Image: Phil Marion from the Torontolife.com Flickr pool)

Another long-awaited report on G20 policing—the second this weekis out, and it details some egregious behaviour, including civil rights violations, the use of excessive force and some really bad planning. In the report, Independent Police Review director Gerry McNeilly writes that police unlawfully stopped and searched people on the street, and that the kettling at Queen and Spadina was “unreasonable, unnecessary and unlawful.” He also criticizes the force’s mass arrests and miserable makeshift detention centre on Eastern Avenue.

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A new report says the RCMP weren’t the bad guys in G20 kettling incidents

(Image: Ronnie Yip from the Torontolife.com Flickr pool)

The OPP, the Toronto police and the RCMP may all have been blamed for the “kettling” tactics at the G20 protest that launched lawsuits and had Amnesty International crying foul, but a new report suggests that the usual suspect, “confusion,” was to blame (well, more so than the RCMP anyway). The Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP has spent the past year looking into the Mounties’ role in G20 policing. It has found that the Major Incident Command Centre, run by the Toronto police, was in charge of police tactics outside the summit centre, though OPP commanders were in charge of the front-line operation at Queen West and Spadina when the RCMP showed up to help cordon off the site. Apparently, kettling isn’t part of the RCMP playbook, but the Mounties deferred to the MICC while their commander searched for the OPP officer in charge for two hours, and was eventually told that the MICC wanted “everyone arrested.” Still confused over who’s to blame? There’s another report coming next month from former justice John Morden that should answer a lot of questions about the actions of all the forces involved. [Globe and Mail]

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G20 security geek Byron Sonne found not guilty on all charges

Nearly two years after Toronto police arrested Byron Sonne during a pre-G20 security sweep, the so-called “Anarchist of Forest Hill” has been found not guilty. Today, Sonne was acquitted on all five charges: four counts of possessing explosive materials and one count of counselling mischief for allegedly encouraging others to scale the G20 security fence. The Crown focused on Sonne’s interest in explosives (police found chemicals that could be used for bomb-building in his basement and backyard, online pics of officers labelled as “bacon” and photos of the security fence with suggestions on how to scale it—plus some almond flour) and argued he planned to attack the summit. Ultimately, Justice Nancy Spies ruled that there wasn’t proof beyond reasonable doubt that Sonne intended to take down the G20, though she said that some of his Internet chatter, while not “illegal,” could be considered “irresponsible.” Perhaps Sonne should stick to a different hobby (but not model rocketry). [Canadian Press]

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The bomb squad shows up in Forest Hill and finds Byron Sonne’s buried treasure

The former Forest Hill home of alleged G20 plotter Byron Sonne looked like the scene of a cop show yesterday as Toronto’s bomb squad combed his backyard for buried explosives. A few days ago, Sonne’s trial was winding down, but Crown prosecutor Elizabeth Nadeau’s closing arguments renewed police suspicions that Sonne had more explosives squirreled away. (Nadeau referenced a May 2010 Internet chat in which Sonne talked about a “storage magazine” of potassium chlorate.) Sure enough, officers wearing badass Kevlar bomb suits used a robotic device to dig up a suspicious buried container, then sped across the city (in rush hour no less) to dump it in the Leslie Street spit. Thanks to that package, Sonne will likely be back in court soon—police won’t say yet whether the container contained potassium chlorate, but it’s probably safe to assume it wasn’t almond flour. Read the entire story »

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Byron Sonne may be the world’s worst wannabe terrorist, according to his defence lawyer

The crux of the defence’s closing remarks in the trial of computer nerd and provocateur Byron Sonne: if Sonne was planning to bomb the G20 summit, he did a terrible job of covering his tracks. The fact that Sonne used his own credit card when purchasing dangerous materials (and, presumably, almond flour) suggests that he never planned to bomb the summit at all, his lawyer contends—Sonne was simply testing the sensitivity and effectiveness of the G20 security apparatus. Given that he was arrested before the G20 even started, we guess Sonne learned that the security system was rather foolproof. Unless someone was armed with some sort of high-tech summit disruption device. You know, like a brick. Read the entire story [Toronto Star] »

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The cop kicking the crowd in that infamous G20 photo finally has a name—thanks to another protester lawsuit

Here’s a familiar tale: a Toronto cop with his face covered and no badge displayed (allegedly!) beats up some G20 protesters, a police complaints watchdog deems the officer used excessive force, and the protesters launch a lawsuit. That’s the short version of why partners Nikos Kapetaneas and Caitlin Morgan are each suing the Police Services Board for $25,000, claiming they were kicked, punched, beaten with batons and pepper-sprayed. Kapetaneas is better known as the unlucky protester in this picture, while the police officer behind that famous boot-to-the-shoulder is apparently Constable Oliver Simpson, who was also named in the Adam Nobody case. If you want to keep track, the Toronto Star has catalogued all the G20 lawsuits launched to date. The short version of that story: the list is very long. Read the entire story [Toronto Star] »

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Long, drawn-out story of Adam Nobody lumbers towards disappointing conclusion

The Special Investigations Unit has announced it won’t be reopening its probe into the Adam Nobody case because that was, like, two years ago and move on, everybody. Okay, it didn’t say that exactly. Earlier this month, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director concluded that five officers should be charged for their use of unnecessary force when they arrested Nobody during the G20 summit. The problem now, according to the SIU, is that the information in the OIPRD report wouldn’t be admissible in court. For instance, according to the Toronto Star, one cop identified the five officers after looking at video and stills, but he said he couldn’t do the same in court without some clear photos for comparison. The SIU discovered that no such photos exist, which means Nobody is out of luck. Well, mostly: one cop, Babak Andalib-Goortani, has already been charged. One out of five ain’t bad, right? Right? Read the entire story [Toronto Star] »

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Still wondering what happened during the G20? Turns out “confusion” is to blame

A new report on the G8 and G20 places the blame for mayhem during the summit squarely on “some confusion.” Apparently, OPP officers were confused about whom, exactly, they were supposed to be assisting: Toronto police or the RCMP. Also, that roughly 650 cops worked 20-hour shifts without a square meal probably didn’t help. The report makes dozens of recommendations on how to avoid repeating similar mistakes in the future, although for our part, we might add the following: don’t hold an international summit like that in downtown Toronto. Read the entire story [Globe and Mail] »

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Does Rob Ford have a real plan for the police (aside from offering his unconditional love and support)?

(Image: Christopher Drost)

By now, you’ve likely heard—over and over and over—about Toronto’s particularly low homicide rate in 2011, which dropped to a 25-year low of just 47 murders, down from 62 in 2010. Sure, the numbers fell on the current mayor’s watch, but over at Spacing Toronto John Lorinc argues credit should actually be given to David Miller, Bill Blair, the provincial Liberals and a unique approach to preventing crime—a touchier, feelier method that wouldn’t resonate with a cop-loving conservative like Rob Ford.

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OpenFile provides the details of Byron Sonne’s chemistry set

As we pointed out earlier today, the Toronto Sun reported the recent news from the Byron Sonne trial in breathless terms. Over at OpenFile, freelance reporterand frequent Toronto Life contributor—Denise Balkissoon also laid out the contents of Sonne’s basement lab, only her account focused more on the equipment and the chemicals and far less on fear mongering. Read the entire story [OpenFile] »

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