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G20 Report: Pants On Fire?

Senior Police Change Stories; Legal Documents Delayed

by Gwalgen Geordie Dent

G20 Report: Pants On Fire?

Toronto - Did senior police lie to the Office of the Indepdent Police Review Director (OIPRD)?

The G20 Police report issued last month by the OIPRD was a scathing review of police conduct and planning and lead to charges against 45 officers under the Police Services Act.

It also showed a number of inconsistencies between what senior police officers told the OIPRD and what actually happened.

Police Chief Bill Blair

Although Chief Blair has come under fire from various media outlets for his refusal to apologize for police conduct during the G20,  he has so far managed to avoid being charged under the Police Services Act or fired by the Police Services Board.

Blair has become quite skilled at changing his story in terms of police actions.

During the G20, Blair told the Real News Network that footage would show that a police officer was justified when he punched a RNN cameraman in the face due to the presence of Black Bloc protesters.  Video footage instead shows Black Bloc protesters were no where near the vicinity to where the assault took place.

After the G20 Summit Blair was repeatedly caught changing his story in response to allegations of police misconduct against protester Adam Nobody.

Blair originally stated that his thousands of hours of videotape and staff couldn't identify the officer, only to have the officer identified by the press shortly after. 

He then stated on CBC Radio that the video used to show excessive force was tampered with: "The evidence that they're relying on is false. It's been edited. A significant portion of it has been removed.And I think that portion … removes any opportunity for a reasonable explanation of the force that was used," he said.

Unfortunately for the Chief of Police, the tape was not tampered with and Blair apologized and retracted those comments a few days later.

A similar pattern has emerged during Blair's OIPRD interviews.

The Chief told the OIPRD that he was unaware of the "public works" or 5-meter rule regulation" that was passed until "he read reports in the media on the morning of the 25th about arrests made the previous day in which the PWPA was cited.  

In other words, some how, officers had been informed of this regulation (which turned out to have been incorrectly interpreted anyways) though Chief Blair had not.

This apparent contradiction was further explored by the OIPRD:  "Apparently [Chief Blair] did not receive or read the letter from the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services advising him the regulation has been passed."

Superintendent Farrar and Staff Inspector Ruffolo

Farrar and Ruffolo were largely responsible for the running of the Prisoner Containment Centre on Eastern Av.  While both were were found guilty of misconduct by the OIPRD and recommended to be charged under the Police Services Act, both will not be charged due to the fact that they have retired.

Farrar and Ruffolo told the OIPRD that fruit, juice and sandwiches were available and provided on a consistent basis.   The OIPRD report notes that this was "surprising, given that the operational plan described lunch as a bottle water and sandwich."  

The report then goes on to state the following: "OIPRD investigators could find not evidence that fruit or juice was provided to prisoners.  The OIPRD reviewed closed-circuit footage from the PCC (detention centre)…but found no evidence that they were provided with food and water every two to three hours.  In fact, the feeding carts referred to by Staff Inspector Ruffolo were not purchased until Sunday June 27th, and were not delivered to the PCC until late that evening afternoon or early evening."

As Farrar and Ruffolo were both responsible for the detention centre, concerns were also raised by prisoner legal council over what appears to be a concerted effort to deny legal council for protesters. 

513 prisoners requested to see counsel.  Why were only 65 were able to do so?

According to the report, "When Duty Counsel (legal aid) themselves expressed concern that prisoners were not getting access to a lawyer they were told it was a 'staffing issue'.  When duty counsel lawyers offered to go to the cells to speak with the prisoners they were told by Court Services Officers that this was not possible.

"Duty counsel reported to the the OIPRD investigators that they repeatedly asked court officers to bring them prisoners, so they could consult with the arrested persons and provide advice."  

Legal Aid Ontario said that they "were lucky if they saw one prisoner per hour". According to the report "Duty counsel informed court officers of their concerns and requested an explanation as to why prisoners were not being brought to see them, but they were never given an explanation."

Toronto Police Services Disclosure of Legal Information

While difficulties interviewing senior police officers seems apparent, Gerry McNeilly from the OIPRD actually told the Toronto Media Co-op that things seemed to go well.

"We interviewed about 600 people.  I myself interviewed over 200 officers inculding many senior officers.  Everyone cooperated and attended their interviews.  I have summons power and I have the ability to force people to answer questions."

The same could not be said for the ability of the Toronto Police Services to hand over documents.  According to the report:

The disclosure process initially encountered delays from TPS.  Issues with TPS disclosure were consistent throughout the process. Disclosure requested was not received in a timely manner.  Not only were items omitted, but the lack of organization of the items made it a tedious task to sort and identify.   The disclosure logs that were included were not adequate.  The naming conventions in the log did not match up to the file names, making it difficult to determine if the correct items had been included in the disclosure package.  In some cases, items were included in the disclosure package but not identified on the log.  In other cases, items were listed on the disclosure log but not included in the package.  In most cases, the CD contents were not labelled and the reader had to search the enclosed folders to determine the contents.

Compare this to the description of disclosure form the Ontario Provincial Police:

"The disclosure requested from the OPP was large and similar in nature to the material requested from the TPS and RCMP.  It was provided to the OIPRD in a neatly indexed bin, separated by category and nature of the matierial."

The TPS did not fully disclose documents to the OIPRD until almost a year after they were requested. This evidence was partially used to establish findings of misconduct against officers and recommend they be charged under the Police Services Act.

Ironically (or perhaps not) in May 2012, the Toronto Police Association tried to get charges recommended by the OIPRD against G20 officers dismissed claiming lengthy delays.  An Ontario Divisional Court panel ruled against the Association.

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