Officer denies arresting cyclist detained for 20 minutes at G20 summit -

Officer denies arresting cyclist detained for 20 minutes at G20 summit


TORONTO – A man stopped by police during the G20 protests three years ago was free to go on his way even though he had been handcuffed and placed in the back of a cruiser, a Toronto police officer testified Monday.

Const. Ryan Simpson also told his disciplinary hearing that he never arrested Nicholas Wright, but admitted failing to inform him of his rights when he detained him for investigative purposes.

“I just absent-mindedly, forgot to advise him of that,” Simpson testified.

Simpson did agree it would have been “reasonable” for Wright to believe he was in fact under arrest and admitted not telling him he was free to leave.

The officer has pleaded not guilty to making an unlawful arrest when he detained Wright, a lawyer, on Sunday June 27, 2010, the day after Black Bloc vandalism erupted in downtown Toronto.

He said he noticed Wright cycling quickly between rows of traffic and decided to stop him. He then noticed Wright had a scarf and swimming goggles around his neck, and was carrying a backpack.

Wright, a lawyer, testified he gave the officer his name and address but refused to answer any further questions.

Simpson, he said, told him he was under arrest for wearing a disguise and searched him and his backpack over his objections.

“The officer said he didn’t need my consent because I was under arrest,” Wright testified.

“I was told I didn’t have a right to remain silent because I was under arrest.”

Wright said the officer was not wearing a name tag, and gave a false name when asked to identify himself.

Simpson, the first of 32 Toronto officers facing Police Service Act charges stemming from the G20 protests, denied those allegations.

Defence lawyer Alan Gold made much of the fact that Wright had goggles with him, a fact he never mentioned in either his complaint or in small-claims proceedings against the officer.

Wright agreed it was unusual to have goggles, but said other cyclists had them to protect their eyes from tear gas.

“You weren’t a normal bicyclist,” Gold said. “You must have intentionally omitted them … because they looked bad for your story.”

“Yes, that’s correct,” Wright conceded.

Gold portrayed Wright as an activist, and suggested he had turned the detention into a “badge of honour” in media interviews, a suggestion Wright called unfair.

The defence lawyer also heaped scorn on Wright’s contention he had suffered minor financial losses due to the “19-minute interruption” in his life.

Testifying in his defence, Simpson said his superiors had told him to arrest anyone wearing a bandana for breach of the peace or for wearing a disguise.

Wright appeared to be leading a larger group of cyclists, who turned around when they saw the stop, the officer said.

“I had grounds to believe that he was involved in a group that was possibly becoming involved in a riotous act,” Simpson said.

The officer said he handcuffed and searched Wright because he was concerned about a possible weapon, before placing him in a cruiser. A canister in the backpack turned out to contain only water.

Simpson denied threatening to arrest the cyclist for refusing to answer his questions.

Following Wright’s testimony, the prosecution conceded there was no evidence against Simpson’s co-accused, Const. Jason Crawford, to support charges, which were dismissed.

Retired Ontario court judge Walter Gonet will hear final arguments in Simpson’s case Tuesday.

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Officer denies arresting cyclist detained for 20 minutes at G20 summit

  1. So it is acceptable to arrest anyone who looks like they may be involved in a “group” or a protest? I would say the officer dug his own grave with that one. But, I am sure some secret law was passed in the dark corners of Queen’s Park to protect this kind of egregious affront to our constitutionally protected right.

  2. I notice that, on the live Tweets and the article from the Toronto star that the officer testified that he had been given orders to arrest anyone wearing a disguise OR WEARING A BACKPACK. Why was this blanket order to arrest most of the people out of doors (which is what a backpack arrest order amounts too) elided here? That, along with the new “arrest light” where being handcuffed and thrown in the back of a police cruiser means you’re free to go, would seem to be the most important aspects of this case. Under Canadian law an order to arrest everyone can only be given after the Riot Act has been read by the Mayor but I suppose it’s too much to ask for the police to be aware of the law.

  3. I’ve encountered three riots in my life, and I was smart enough to walk away from them.

    If you want to be an activist and want to get yourself arrested for it, quit complaining when your wish is fulfilled.

    • Riot? What are you talking about? Did you read the article? The “Not An Arrest” happened the day after the policer abandoned the whole downtown so that they could guard “the important people” at the convention centre and some vandalism (of course) happened. Hardly a riot by Montreal or Vancouver Hockey riot standards where at least a dozen cruisers get turned over and burned by mobs.

      Arrest? The police testified that it wasn’t an arrest.

      Activist? He was a lawyer out on a Sunday bike ride a day after & miles away from the police’s G20 withdrawal of services. There was no evidence that he even attended any protest at any time in his life. The police just issued blanket orders to arrest everyone wearing a backpack so they could pretend that they were “doing something”: pure theatre. The actual arrests of the vandals came months later as the result of CCTV footage investigations. Of the over 1,000 arrests on the G20 weekend less than 2% were convicted of minor offences: over 90% weren’t even charged with anything. More millions of taxpayers money flushed away to prop up some civil servants’ egos.

      • “… stopped by police during the G20 protests…”

        Like I said, I walked away from the riots. Well away. Nowhere near. No chance of being mistaken for a rioter.

        • “during” here means “was in the same city during the G20 protests along with 2,000,000 other people going about their normal, daily lives”. It doesn’t mean “within miles of any protests” nor does it mean “on the same day as any ‘riots'”. “Protest” does not equal “riot” nor any other illegal activity.

          “No chance of being mistaken for a rioter.” LOL! But by your own admission you’ve (unlike the guy here) been within eyeshot of where a riot took place and, I”m assuming,(also unlike the guy here) on the same day as the riot – maybe even during the same 6 hours as the riot! Hmmm, “seen fleeing the scene of not one, not two, but three riots”! Sounds like you’re some kind of Criminal Mastermind to me! And no doubt you, like the rioters, did things with other people on the day after the disturbances and had items of clothing in common with them – like shoes and pants. Beats me why the police would go after this guy and not you as there’s much more ‘evidence’ against you.

          Or perhaps you lucked out and the police forces in your situations had enough professionalism to actually feel the need for evidence in order to arrest someone. Unlike the Toronto police. Montreal police perhaps? Their whole riot squad was here during the G20 but was forbidden to act during the G20 violence.