SIU charges Toronto police officer with assault during G20
Allison Jones, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, December 21, 2010 7:49PM EST
TORONTO - The G20 protester whose violent arrest was caught on video and caused controversy when no officers were initially held responsible said he's glad a police officer has been charged.
But protester Adam Nobody and his lawyers called on Toronto's police chief on Tuesday to help identify other officers who were involved in the case.
Toronto police Const. Babak Andalib-Goortani was charged Tuesday with assault with a weapon in the takedown of Nobody at the Ontario legislature during the June summit.
A video of the arrest, filmed by a videographer and viewed by tens of thousands of people since it was posted on YouTube, shows people running from a line of police in riot gear and at least five officers chasing Nobody.
He is swarmed and at least one officer can be seen making a punching motion. Nobody was treated in hospital for a fracture below his right eye.
Ontario's Special Investigations Unit, which probes cases of death or injury involving police, originally concluded there appeared to be an excessive use of force. But the civilian agency said it was impossible to tell the identify of the officer from the video.
Two officers were designated as subject officers during the investigation, but they would not agree to be interviewed, which they have the right to refuse.
The SIU reopened its investigation after Police Chief Bill Blair suggested in a radio interview that the police were arresting a violent armed offender, and that a segment depicting the use of a weapon had been removed from the tape.
Blair apologized a few days later, saying there was no evidence there was any "intent to mislead" with the video.
Videographer John Bridge came forward to the SIU and told them he had turned his camera off for a few seconds because he thought he might have to retreat from advancing police.
During its new investigation, the SIU received two more videos of Nobody's arrest and the Toronto police gave the agency names of 15 officers who might have been in the vicinity or involved in the arrest.
The SIU singled out three of those officers, but they refused to give statements. None of the 12 other officers said they could identify the officers in the video.
Toronto police then gave the SIU the name of one more witness police officer, who then identified one of the three officers as Andalib-Goortani.
Nobody said in a statement that he is glad a charge has been laid.
"I am relieved that at least one of the officers involved in my arrest will face justice," said Nobody.
"It is now time for the justice system to do its work."
But Nobody and his lawyers said the investigation should go further.
"What I still don't understand is how 12 police officers who were around me when I was arrested aren't able to identify anyone," he said.
"I hope that something can still be done about this," he said.
His lawyer, Julian Falconer, accused the witness officers of scuttling the SIU investigation to help out other officers. He called on Blair to help the SIU identify any other officers involved in using force against Nobody.
Andalib-Goortani is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 24 to face the assault with a weapon charge.
More than 1,000 people were arrested during the summit. Of that group about 300 were charged and five months later, few are still facing those charges.