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Interim Toronto police chief addresses Dafonte Miller assault by off-duty officer

Interim Toronto police Chief James Ramer is expected this morning to address the case of Dafonte Miller, a young Black man severely beaten by an off-duty officer in 2016, a source confirmed to CBC News.

Ramer is scheduled to hold a news conference beginning at 10:30 a.m. ET at Toronto Police Service headquarters downtown. It will be his first time speaking publicly to media since stepping into the role of interim chief.

You will be able to watch the news conference live in this story.

Ramer will likely face questions about why the force failed to notify Ontario’s police watchdog after learning of Const. Michael Theriault’s then-alleged involvement in the beating of Miller in Whitby on Dec. 28, 2016. Theriault was off-duty at the time.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) was only notified of the incident four months later, after being contacted by Miller’s lawyer.

Durham police, who responded to the scene on the night of the beating and were made aware that Theriault was a police officer, also did not contact the SIU.

Dafonte Miller, seen here arriving to court in Oshawa for the trial of brothers Michael and Christian Theriault, was 19 years old when he was assaulted by Michael Theriault in Whitby on Dec. 28, 2016. (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press)

In June, 2020, Theriault was convicted of assault for his role in the beating, which left Miller — who was 19 at the time — blind in his left eye. Theriault was found not guilty of two other charges stemming from the beating, aggravated assault and obstruction of justice.

His brother, Christian Theriault, who was also alleged to have been involved, was acquitted of aggravated assault and obstruction of justice.

The brothers’ father, John Theriault, is a senior officer with the Toronto Police Service, who at the time was serving in the professional standards unit.

In the aftermath of charges being laid against the brothers, then-Toronto police chief Mark Saunders denied that the failure to notify the SIU was part of an attempted coverup and insisted that his officers “acted in good faith.”

Saunders unexpectedly announced his retirement earlier this year, and had his last day on July 31.

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