TORONTO – A judge has found a Toronto police officer guilty of assaulting a protester with a weapon at the city’s G20 summit three years ago.
Protester Adam Nobody clapped as the verdict was read, while another officer in the courtroom let out a loud sigh.
The Crown had argued that Const. Babak Andalib-Goortani was overwhelmed by the chaos and “lashed out” at the protester, hitting him with a baton after the man had been wrestled to the ground.
But in issuing her verdict Thursday, Judge Louise Botham told court “a police officer is not entitled to use unlimited force to affect an arrest.”
“His explanation that he was responding to Adam Nobody’s resistance is nothing more than an after the fact attempt to justify his blows,” Botham said.
“I accept that in a dynamic situation, arrests need to occur quickly and officers may well need to use force to ensure that happens,” she said. “(But) even on the defendant’s evidence the resistance offered by Adam Nobody was minimal.”
Outside court, Nobody said he was surprised at the verdict.
“I was, yes… we live in a system we all know that cops get off all the time, so yes, I can honestly say that I was.”
The protester was singled out for arrest at a demonstration on June 26, 2010, at the Ontario legislature and was tackled as he ran from police.
Andalib-Goortani’s lawyer told court his client saw four other officers struggling to restrain Nobody on the ground and jabbed Nobody with his baton three times toward his thigh.
Botham said she found it “surprising” that fellow police officers who testified for the defence had such a vivid recollection of one protester’s behaviour in huge crowds three years ago.
She also called it curious that Andalib-Goortani had no name tag or badge number on his uniform that day.
Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, says the officer is “very distraught” and “very crushed by this decision.”
“We’re going to have counsel go over it (the verdict) and then if there are grounds for appeal we’ll be taking that avenue.”