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Dafonte Miller testifies at preliminary hearing for cop, brother accused of aggravated assault
Kayla Goodfield, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, February 21, 2018 5:10PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 21, 2018 10:54PM EST
The 19-year-old at the centre of a high-profile police brutality case in Whitby took the stand at a preliminary hearing in an Oshawa courtroom today.
Dafonte Miller spoke softly when answering a judge’s questions about the series of events that led to such severe facial injuries that his eye had to be surgically removed.
A publication ban prevents us from publicly disclosing details of his testimony.
Toronto police Const. Michael Theriault and his younger brother, Christian Theriault, are each accused of confronting Miller while he was walking to a friend’s house near Thickson Road and William Stephenson Drive in the early morning hours of Dec. 28, 2016.
Michael Theriault was off-duty at the time of the alleged assault.
It’s alleged that Michael Theriault identified himself to Miller as a police officer and began asking him questions. When Miller refused, the brothers allegedly came after him and, once they caught up with him, began beating him.
Along with losing an eye, Miller also suffered a broken nose, broken orbital bone, bruised ribs and a fractured wrist.
Miller was initially faced several charges in connection with the incident but the Crown withdrew those charges on May 5.
The brothers are each facing charges of aggravated assault and assault with a weapon.
These charges, which have not been proven in court, were laid months later, after lawyer representing Miller brought the allegations to the province’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU).
The SIU officially laid the charges against the pair on July 18, 2017. Miller’s lawyer, Julian Falconer, informed the civilian police watchdog on April 27, 2017.
According to a complaint filed by Falconer with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD), it’s alleged that Michael and Christian Theriault’s father, Det. John Theriault, a detective with the Toronto police’s Professional Standards Unit, interfered with the investigation into his sons.
Falconer alleges in the complaint that Det. John Theriault improperly contacted Durham police investigators to “gain information relating to the status of the investigation and to provide additional false information about injuries suffered by his son, Christian.”
By December 2017, Toronto Mayor John Tory confirmed that John Theriault was no longer with the Professional Standards Unit. It is not clear what role he now holds with the Toronto Police Service.
The preliminary hearing, which began yesterday, is expected to last for several months.
Toronto police have previously said that Theriault has been suspended with pay pending the investigation.