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Activist Communique: Arresting issues from the G20 summit protests remain unsolved

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A 174-page report by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) released on Friday January 20, 2012, recommended that five Toronto police officers should face criminal charges for using unnecessary force against activist Adam Nobody.

The recommendations from OIPRD were based on interviews with a dozen police witnesses, the five officers involved, five civilian witnesses and Adam Nobody himself.

The five Toronto police officers involved in the allegations of police brutality that are "substantiated and is of a serious nature" include Consts. Michael Adams, Babak Andalib-Goortani, Geoffrey Fardell, David Donaldson and Oliver Simpson.

Penalties for these officers could range from reprimand to dismissal under the Police Services Act. As a result of the investigation, OIPRD ordered Toronto's police chief Bill Blair to hold a hearing for the five officers.

At first, it looked unlikely that Adam Nobody would be able to have a full investigation into the events surrounding his alleged beating by police -- during his take-down on the lawn of Queen's Park and afterwards when he was carried off to the police arrest-vehicle -- since the identities of said officers were shrouded in mystery.

It took a series of steps and SIU investigations, along with stiff public and media pressure -- to determine the Toronto police officers' names. It was another struggle to push for charges against these officers.

Adam Nobody was participating in the G20 summit protests that shook Toronto in late June of 2010. I have included video of his take-down by police at the bottom on this article.

Please note that Adam Nobody claims he was beaten during his arrest but publicly stated that he suffered an even worse beating after he was under arrest.

Special Investigations Unit director Ian Scott stated in a press statement, "There are reasonable grounds to believe that an officer ... committed a criminal offence in connection with the arrest of Adam Nobody on June 26." This officer was later identified -- he was not wearing any identification at the time -- as Andalib-Goortani. He is the only one of the five police officers named that has already been charged.

On December 21, 2010, Toronto Police Const. Babek Andalib-Goortani was charged with assault with a weapon against Adam Nobody from that June 26, 2010, incident. Andalib-Goortani was later charged with another count of assault with a weapon during the G20 summit demonstration against Wyndham Bettencourt-McCarthy.

Police spokesman Mark Pugash confirmed on Friday, January 20, 2011, that police received a copy of OIPRD report. "We don't discuss the conduct of internal investigations, but we work very closely and very effectively with the OIPRD," he said, adding they just received the report and there are as yet no notices of hearing. Usually charges must be laid within six months of the incident. In this case, the police services board would have to approve an extension before officers can be charged and a hearing ordered.

The same day, Mike McCormack, the head of the Toronto Police Association, announced that it would actively challenge any attempt to lay disciplinary charges against the five officers involved in Adam Nobody's arrest, stating that the investigation took too long.

"The association takes the position on a point of principle," he told the CBC. "These things should be concluded within a reasonable timeframe, like any other investigation."

According to the Ontario Police Services Act, charges must be laid within six months of an alleged incident -- in this case, the incident occurred on June 26, 2010. Therefore, for this case to proceed, Chief Bill Blair would now have to ask for permission from the Police Services Board for this case to go forward. Setting aside the six-month time limit is what the police union intends to oppose.

OIPRD director Gerry McNeilly told CBC News in an email that his investigation took so long because, "as you know, G20 was a big event, issues with officer identification, delays in obtaining and receiving disclosure, [the] number of matters being investigated were numerous and a systemic review ongoing."

A separate case (being investigated by the SIU) involves the arrest of Abbas Jama who was arrested and allegedly beaten by the same officers who Adam Nobody alleges attacked him.

Another G20 policing connection being raised is the case of Junior Alexander Manon. Manon died while being arrested years ago near York University. At the inquiry into Manon's death on Wednesday, January 25, 2012, the coroner ruled that the jury would not be able to review a Toronto SIU report recommending disciplinary charges (excessive force) against Const. Michael Adams who was also one of the officers involved in Manon's arrest.

In other G20 news, Toronto lawyer Clayton Ruby publicly stated on Thursday, January 26, 2012, that he wants to see an investigation into what role Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair played regarding the illegal and arrest and search of his client Jason Wall during the G20 summit. The call for an investigation into Blair's action was prompted by an earlier complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) on Wednesday and based on information revealed from Wall's original complaint.

Wall was arrested on Sunday, June 27, 2010, on a charge of wearing a disguise with intent. On September 7, 2011, the OIPRD found the arrest to be illegal. At contention here is whether Chief Bill Blair ordered officers to arrest anyone wearing a bandana or somehow covering their face during the G20 summit protests.

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