Police training not an escape hatch

Sep 18, 2013 By Matthew Friedberg
The objectivity displayed in the guilty verdict against a police officer who assaulted a G20 protester three years ago is a good thing for public perception of the legal system, says Toronto criminal lawyer Michael Boyd.

Recently, Ontario Superior Court justice Louise Botham found Const. Babak Andalib-Goortani guilty of assault with a weapon when he beat G20 protester Adam Nobody in Toronto three years ago.

“This type of objectivity in the administration of justice increases the public confidence in our criminal justice system,” says Boyd, a lawyer with Caramanna, Friedberg LLP. However, he adds, incidents like the one involving Andalib-Goortani, “tend to have the unfortunate effect of causing members of the public to lose confidence in the police as a whole, rather than the particular officer involved in the incident.”

What is particularly important in the case, says Boyd, is the fact the officer testified that his actions during the incident where he struck Nobody during a chaotic G20 protest in downtown Toronto in 2010, “were in accordance with how he was taught to respond to individuals resisting arrest.”

And the guilty verdict, adds Boyd, puts police in a position where they may not be able to rely on having acted in accordance with their training as a defence.

“This verdict is a statement that police officers will face criminal sanctions for objectively excessive actions taken in the course of duty, even in circumstances where the officer believes he is acting in a manner consistent with his training,” says Boyd.