Toronto Police Officer Charged after Beating Man and Blinding Him in Left Eye


A Toronto police officer has been charged and is suspended with pay in connection with an attack on a 19-year-old man that left him with broken bones and a serious eye injury last December in Whitby, Ont.

Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) charged Const. Michael Theriault on Tuesday with aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and public mischief. Theriault was off duty at the time of the alleged attack.

The police constable is now suspended with pay, a Toronto police spokesperson confirmed, though police will not comment further on the case, as it’s an investigation by the SIU.

The SIU states that Durham Regional Police initially arrested the alleged victim, Dafonte Miller. According to his lawyer, Miller was charged with theft under $5,000, two counts of assault with a weapon, possession of a weapon and possession related to marijuana, but that all charges were withdrawn following a pretrial hearing on May 5.

Miller is traumatized and awaiting surgery to remove his eye, his mother, Leisa Lewis, said in an interview with CBC Toronto. He was allegedly hit repeatedly with a steel pipe just before 3 a.m. ET on Dec. 28.

According to his lawyer, Miller and two friends were walking down Erickson Drive in Whitby, headed to the home of another friend, when two men tried to confront them and began chasing them with a pipe. Miller’s friends managed to escape, but he was not so fortunate.

Miller’s family said his left eye was so damaged that it will have to be surgically removed. He also suffered a broken nose, jaw and wrist.

According to the SIU, Theriault was arrested on Tuesday and was subsequently released. He is required to appear before the Ontario Court of Justice in Oshawa on Aug. 10.

Lewis feels the severity of her son’s injuries warrants a more serious charge.

“To me, it’s like attempted murder,” Lewis said, fighting back tears.

One horrific thought keeps running through her mind.

“Two, three more blows, my son could have been dead,” she said. “I can’t get that thought out of my head.”
‘I can see the pain in my child’

Lewis can’t believe that she and her family had to spend months travelling to court appearances to defend Miller in a case in which he was the one injured, at a particularly difficult time for the family as they struggled to care for Miller, first in hospital and later at home.
Leisa Lewis Dafonte Miller SIU Durham police beating

Leisa Lewis says she now feels unsafe and fears for the well-being of her other children.

She said the attack robbed her of her outgoing son, who used to love playing basketball, writing rap songs and making people laugh. Now, she said, he’s a different person, wounded far beyond the physical injuries.

“He will just sit in the chair staring [blankly] for a long time,” Lewis said. He has trouble sleeping and only now, months after the alleged beating, is he starting to get his appetite back.

Miller’s lawyer, Julian Falconer, said his client is too traumatized to be interviewed.

Falconer believes the attack was racially motivated.

“The major facts are as follows: my client is black. And he’s a black young male.”
Dafonte Miller Durham police beating

Dafonte Miller’s left eye was badly injured in the beating. He’s currently waiting for a surgery date to have the eye removed. (Leisa Lewis)

Falconer has a long history of representing clients who have claimed mistreatment by police. But he’s shocked by the violence of the alleged attack, calling it “one of the most vicious, senseless excesses of force I have ever seen by a police officer.”

“From my client’s point of view, he was jumped,” Falconer said. “This is the stuff you read about from an era gone by in the Deep South in the U.S.”

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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