Are Ontario Police above the Law?

Are Ontario Police above the Law?  A report in today's Toronto Star suggests they are.

The Ontario Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which is charged with investigating serious injuries and deaths caused by police has a near-perfect record of exonerating police officers.

Cases where ordinary citizens would serve serious jail time often merit nothing more than a slap on the wrist from the SIU.  According to the Star article, in the 20 years it's been in existence, the SIU has conducted more than 3,400 investigations, but have laid criminal charges in only 95 cases, garnering only 16 convictions, of which only 3 actually served time in jail.

That is absurd by any definition you want to use.

The case of Junior Alexander Manon (brutally beaten to death by 7 Toronto Police Service constables) is one of the latest where SIU has been called in to investigate.

SIU's website claims:

The SIU is committed to transparency and accessibility. The SIU's goal is to share information about its work to help the public understand why the SIU is involved.

Cases that attract significant media attention have news releases on the status and results of the investigations. All other cases are publicly reported by way of case summaries which can be found under Report on Cases. The SIU strives to ensure that every case is publicly reported and available for anyone to access.

yet the only report on the Manon case, is this:

MISSISSAUGA (May 6, 2010) --- Ontario's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is probing the circumstances surrounding the death of 18-year-old Junior Alexander Manon that occurred yesterday evening. The Toronto Police Service reported the following information to the SIU:

* At approximately 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 5, officers stopped a vehicle on Steeles Ave. W. at Founders Rd.
* One of the vehicle's occupants, Mr. Manon, attempted to flee resulting in a short foot pursuit.
* Mr. Manon was transported to York Finch Hospital, where he was later pronounced deceased.

Five investigators and two forensic investigators are investigating this incident. Anyone who may have information regarding this incident is asked to contact the Unit at 416-622-1957 or 1-800-787-8529.

Apparently the Toronto Police Service didn't feel it relevant to disclose that SEVEN of its constables participated in the young man's brutal murder.

Outrage over Manon's death sparked numerous public rallies and outcries, and even online videos in support of Manon's family.

One of those videos is by Katey Montague, a young woman who advocates for the protection of Canadians' rights and freedoms.  She was disgusted and horrified by news reports of Manon's death.

Here's an excerpt of the Toronto Star article...

A Toronto police officer inexplicably floors his gas pedal, speeds into an illegal right turn and runs down a grandmother, severing her brain stem and killing her instantly.

An OPP constable wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying a baton and pepper spray shoots and kills an intellectually challenged 59-year-old man holding a small pocket knife.

During a traffic stop near Canada's Wonderland, York Region officers rough up a small, 50-year-old accountant, breaking his arm and leaving him roadside.

A Peel Region police officer sucker-punches a handcuffed prisoner and breaks his jaw in two places.

Two teens chatting on the grass in a public park are run over by a Durham Region squad car, suffering extensive injuries.

All of these officers were quickly cleared by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) — the provincial agency responsible for investigating serious injuries and deaths resulting from interactions between police and the public. All still work as police officers.

The Toronto Star investigated two decades of SIU cases. It found that police officers across the province are treated far differently than civilians when accused of shooting, beating and running over and killing people, some of them innocent bystanders.

Ontario's criminal justice system heavily favours police and gives officers breaks at every turn — from the SIU, which hardly ever charges officers, to prosecutors, juries and judges.

Where civilians causing similar damage are typically prosecuted, cops walk.

Even in the rare instances when officers are charged and convicted, they almost always avoid jail time.

The Star also found police officers' lack of preparation, reckless and ill-advised tactics, and tendency to use excessive force led to civilian injuries and deaths.

“(The SIU) doesn't charge anybody. It's all a waste of time,” said David Orbst, the short, unintimidating accountant whose arm was broken during a traffic stop by York Region police officers, including an officer Orbst identified as Const. Derek Cadieux. “If a (civilian) had done this to me, I point the finger and they get arrested.”

The head of the SIU, Ian Scott, defended his agency in an interview with the Star but said, “Police officers get all kinds of breaks in the (criminal justice) system.”

Read the rest of the Star article

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