TORONTO – The first Toronto police officer to go to trial on criminal charges from G20 protests told court Tuesday he didn’t hit or shove a man he’s accused of assaulting, but other officers might have.
Const. Glenn Weddell testified at his trial that the only contact he had with Dorian Barton on June 26, 2010, was to help him up off the ground.
Barton’s shoulder was broken that day and he alleges that a police officer hit him with a riot shield, knocking him to the ground, and that he was hit several more times, possibly with a baton, before being dragged away.
Video of Barton’s arrest begins with the now 32-year-old Toronto man on the ground and shows two officers helping him up, then one of them gives Barton a shove and Barton appears to trip over a curb and falls to the ground.
Weddell said Tuesday he doesn’t know how Barton got on the ground the first time, but the only time he touched him was to help him up — and he wasn’t the officer who shoved him.
“He seems to be pushing him a little to motivate him to move, however, he trips on the sidewalk at the time,” Weddell said after the video was played in court.
The 49-year-old officer said he doesn’t remember seeing anyone assault Barton, but he noted that in the video it looks like another officer kicks Barton at one point while he’s on the ground.
“It was more like, ‘Get up, get out of here,'” Weddell said of the apparent kick. “That could be construed as assault, definitely, but it was more like a motivational thing … I see that in the video.”
Weddell has pleaded not guilty to assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon.
Weddell was part of the public order unit and had been at several other scenes that day, at which people using so-called black bloc tactics broke away from peaceful demonstrations and began vandalizing parts of the city and clashing with police.
Later that day he was called to the Ontario legislature, which had been designated as a zone for peaceful protest. Barton had gone to that area with a friend to scope out the scene.
Barton, in his testimony Monday, described the scene as one of a few protesters scattered amongst onlookers, but Weddell testified that a large protest group was there when he arrived and some projectiles were being thrown.
At some point, Weddell and his fellow officers received an order to get the group to move. Weddell said his role was to form part of a police line while groups of other officers known as “arrest teams” would burst from behind the police line, grab agitators and drag them back behind the line to arrest them.
“We received information that the assembly was unlawful and we were going to make a push and move the protesters north through Queen’s Park,” Weddell testified.
“I was giving commands advising people to leave or they’d be arrested. I know officers on either side of me were as well.”
Barton said he didn’t hear any such commands and was hit with force from behind while he was taking a picture of police horses. Weddell said he first noticed Barton when he was already on the ground.
Andrew Wallace, a witness to Barton’s arrest, testified Monday that he saw Weddell hit Barton with his riot shield then hit him with a baton while he was down.
None of the videos or photos that the Crown has presented show this, though Wallace said the images don’t tell the whole story.
Weddell’s lawyer, Peter Brauti, said there is no evidence to support an allegation that Weddell hit Barton and suggested Wallace’s version of events is not what happened.
Both sides are set to make submissions Wednesday, then Superior Court Judge Gregory Ellies will likely give his decision on Friday.