A preliminary hearing has begun for a Toronto cop and his brother accused of severely beating a Whitby teenager back in December 2016.

Const. Michael Theriault and his brother Christian Theriault are accused of confronting 19-year-old Danfonte Miller while he was walking on a residential street in Whitby in the area of Thickson Road and William Stephenson Drive on Dec. 28, 2016. Michael Theriault was off-duty at the time of the alleged incident.

According to officials, Miller was walking with friends in the area when he was confronted by two men standing inside a garage at a nearby home.

Julian Falconer, a lawyer for Miller, said one of the two men identified himself as a police officer at the time and asked Miller to answer some questions. When Miller refused, Falconer said, the two men began to chase Miller.

The Theriault’s are accused of beating Miller to the point where he had to have his eye surgically removed.

The pair has been charged with aggravated assault and assault with a weapon. These charges have not been proven in court.

“Aggravated assault is a very serious charge,” former homicide detective and CP24’s crime specialist Steve Ryan said on Tuesday. “It’s one that is one step below attempted murder. You can consent to being assaulted, you can consent to a fight, you can consent to a sporting event but you can’t consent to bodily harm.”

“You can’t consent to losing an eye. You can consent to taking a punch and I can punch you back but you can’t consent to bodily harm.”

Criminal defense attorney Ari Goldkind told CP24 on Monday that the preliminary hearing will only address these charges.

“Today it’s a preliminary hearing for the actual beating of this young man – just as interestingly to a lot of people in Toronto who have concerns about police there is a public mischief charge where these officers are also charged with conjuring up a story,” he said.

The SIU laid charges on July 18, 2017 after Miller’s lawyer informed the agency of the alleged incident on April 27, 2017.

“The optics are not good from the outside looking in but there may be an explanation for the delay,” Ryan said. “When the SIU is involved it’s the responsibility of the Chief and the jurisdiction where the involved officer is from to notify the SIU or the Chief’s liaison.

“There may have been a miscommunication but whatever it was I’m sure it will come out in trial.”

The SIU is called in to investigate any incident involving a police officer in Ontario that involves death, serious injury or an allegation of sexual assault.

The preliminary hearing for the brothers is expected to last several months.