by Hassan Reyes
Basics Issue#10 (Aug/Sep 2008)
A Toronto judge recently dismissed the charges against two young men on the grounds that signs of physical abuse by police were obvious and that the police evidence was “unreliable, likely false.”
Shayne Fisher, 24, and Valter Almeida, 23, who were arrested on Lawrence Ave. W., west of Keele St., were found not guilty by Ontario Superior Court Justice Brian Trafford.
Fisher suffered a fractured rib, a perforated right eardrum, and bruising around the right eye. Almeida suffered abrasions on his forehead, back, neck and legs, with his nose bloodied.
The defendants also testified that they were threatened by the assaulting police if they complained or asked for medical attention. Fisher and Almeida - who police accused of selling crack when they were just smoking marijuana - may be filing a lawsuit against the police in the coming months.
This comes at the same time as a report was released showing that 43 Toronto police were acquitted for 12 civilian deaths, 50 injuries and four sex-assault complaints in the last year. This includes the murder of Alwy Al-Nahdir and Byron Debassige.
The mechanisms currently in place to review police conduct, such as the SIU, are a joke and must be overhauled so that retired cops aren’t judging their own buddies and former colleagues for abuses. The people of Ontario need a truly independent civilian-led body to oversee the police, because clearly the police cannot be trusted to themselves. And before getting this, people need to be more vigilant of police conduct in our communities.