Kenneth Jeffers, the lone Black member of the Toronto Police Services Board, is calling for a “stronger position” in reviewing the case of Dafonte Miller, a 19-year old Black man from Whitby who was allegedly beaten with a steel pipe which left him blinded in the left eye and with a broken nose, jaw and wrist.
Miller’s lawyer, Julian Falconer, said he believes that the attack was racially motivated.
Last month Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit charged Toronto Police Constable Michael Theriault with aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and public mischief in connection with the attack on Miller.
And Waterloo Regional Police have been called in to investigate how Toronto Police handled the alleged beating of the young man by one of its officers.
But Jeffers is concerned about the conduct of the review by the Waterloo police.
In a letter to his colleagues on the Toronto Police Services Board, Jeffers said he has had opportunities “to review and discuss with several people the full dynamics of the Dafonte Miller case.
“As a result, I have become increasingly concerned that we need to take a stronger position to ensure that our sincere objectives of “positive community engagement and transparency” remain credible.
” Therefore, I am recommending that we revisit the decision of an independent review by the Waterloo police services in view of the skepticism that is being expressed by some members of the public that the police service run the risk of not being truly independent because of their close affiliation within their own professional Associations and Organizations.
Jeffers is suggesting that the Toronto Police Services Board consider asking the Ontario government to appoint a lawyer from the Human Rights Commission or Tribunal and to request that Minister Michael Couteau appoint a senior member of his staff of the Anti-Racism Directorate to be also part of the proposed review. He also said that the chairman of the Board should also participate in the review.
According to Miller’s lawyer, last December, he (Miller) and two of his friends were walking down Erickson Drive in Whitby, headed to the home of another friend, when two men tried to confront them and began chasing them with a pipe. Miller’s friend managed to escape but he did not.
Miller is reported to have called 911 during the attack in front of two witnesses who were never interviewed by Durham Regional Police.
The lawyer said it was his office which alerted the SIU to the case last April.