Some Toronto police still don’t get it

Back in October of 2015, a man named Mike Miller was harassed, threatened, and suffered an abrogation of his Charter rights at the hands of two thuggish Toronto police officers when he tried to make a video recording of the arrest of another man. I blogged about that incident, which was covered at the time in the Toronto Star and other places.

Nearly two years later, a resolution that Mike Miller himself called satisfactory was reached. He met with the two police officers in question, heard their side of the story, told his side, shook hands with them, and agreed to let the whole matter drop. I was surprised, but if Mr. Miller is happy, then so am I. The police department seemed to understand the seriousness of the matter. So did the two cops involved. There was apparently more to it than that, but neither the cops nor Miller are saying more. I would have preferred that the details of the resolution be made public, but for some reason they chose not to do so, and it doesn’t really matter to me.

For a few days, I felt pretty good about the whole thing. The cops seemed to get it. Mike Miller was vindicated. Progress seemed to have been made.

And then, the Toronto police did it again. A man who was lawfully recording an arrest from a safe distance was threatened with arrest and confiscation of his phone, despite the fact that both these actions would have violated his right to film in public, not to mention his duty as a private citizen to document police misconduct. In this case, the man, Waseem Khan, saw the police tasering a man who was handcuffed and on the ground at the time. He also said he saw a cop kick the man in the head.

To their credit, this time, the TPD didn’t try to deny, obfuscate, or railroad anyone. Their spokesman, Mark Pugash, was very forthcoming about the fact that the police have “more work to do.” That work apparently involves educating their officers about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I understand that being a cop involves mastery of a lot of complex laws and regulations, but the Charter is supposed to be the foundation underpinning all that. That should be the first thing police master, and if they can’t demonstrate mastery of it, they shouldn’t be allowed on the streets with a gun and a badge.