BRAMPTON, Ont. – A Toronto police officer convicted of assaulting a protester during the G20 summit was sentenced Monday to 45 days in jail.
Const. Babak Andalib-Goortani was convicted in September of assault with a weapon for using excessive force during the arrest of protester Adam Nobody on June 26, 2010, on the lawn of the Ontario legislature.
Ontario Court Judge Louise Botham delivered the sentence after hearing submissions from both the Crown and defence.
“Citizens will respect the rule of law when they can be confident that those with the power to enforce our laws do so fairly,” said Botham.
“When that trust is abused citizens need to know that police will be held accountable.”
The judge said it was an aggravating factor that Nobody was already on the ground surrounded by other officers at the time of the assault. She also noted Andalib-Goortani’s name tag and badge weren’t visible.
“I can only conclude this was a deliberate act on the defendant’s part to make it harder for people to identify him.”
Crown attorney Philip Perlmutter had called for a short jail term or a conditional sentence that would send a message denouncing Andalib-Goortani’s conduct.
“The court by its sentence must send a message…that the rule of law will be respected, that those who abuse their positions of public trust and authority will be dealt with severely,” Perlmutter said.
As it became clear the judge was going to send him to jail, Andalib-Goortani held his head in his hands. He was then led into custody by court officers.
Andalib-Goortani’s lawyer, Harry Black, had asked for his client to receive an absolute discharge.
Black said earlier on Monday that the officer had suffered enough already. He has post-traumatic stress disorder, his psychological state is fragile and his marriage has fallen apart, Black said, as Andalib-Goortani dabbed a tissue to his eyes.
“It seems inhuman to take the position now that he should be out of a job, take away his career, put him in jail or give him a conditional sentence,” Black said.
“It’s hard to imagine what motivates the Crown to say he should suffer some more. He should be penalized some more. He has not been hurt enough by this process.”
Black didn’t comment after the sentence was read except to say he would try to get his client out on bail pending appeal.
Andalib-Goortani’s trial took place in Toronto but the sentencing was moved to Brampton, Ont., where the judge brought in to hear the case normally sits.
Botham found that Nobody was minimally resisting arrest after he was tackled by other officers. Video footage shows him on the ground with officers piled on top of him. Moments before Andalib-Goortani delivers a second set of blows with his baton, another officer can be seen kneeing Nobody in the face.
More than 1,000 people were detained by police that weekend after protesters using so-called Black Bloc tactics broke away from a peaceful rally and ran through the downtown, smashing windows and burning police cruisers.
The vast majority of those detained were released without charge within 24 hours.
Andalib-Goortani was one of two officers to face criminal charges stemming from the arrests, but earlier this year Const. Glenn Weddell was acquitted.