Toronto Police Services Board Statement Regarding the Decision in the Theriault Trial
The trial of Police Constable Michael Theriault and Christian Theriault into the assault of Dafonte Miller and obstruction of justice has now concluded. The Board recognizes that this verdict was reached after Justice Joseph Di Luca heard the evidence in open court, assessed this evidence, and applied the law to the facts as he found them, and found P.C. Theriault guilty of assault and both P.C. Theriault and Christian Theriault not guilty of attempting to obstruct justice. The Toronto Police Services Board appreciates that this trial has garnered considerable public interest given the circumstances. As has been the case since the assault came to light, our thoughts remain with Dafonte Miller and his journey to full physical and psychological recovery.
With the conclusion of the trial, the Board will now turn its attention to the section 11 investigation into this incident. Section 11 investigations are required under the Police Services Act when an investigation by the Special Investigations Unit, or SIU, has also occurred. Section 11 investigations require the Chief of Police to review the procedures, policies, governance, and all other relevant matters associated with a case, and are meant to identify, if any, systemic issues, concerns or areas for improvement in service delivery. It is normal practice for section 11 investigations to be put on hold until both the criminal investigation and trial have concluded, as has occurred in this case.
In this case, Chief Saunders had recommended that an independent police agency conduct the section 11 investigation in order to maintain the integrity of the process. As a result, the Waterloo Regional Police Service was identified as an independent and neutral agency that could undertake the section 11 investigation. It is the Board’s understanding that the section 11 investigation can now commence, pending any appeal of the verdict. If there is an appeal of the verdict, the Board would ask that the Waterloo Regional Police Service provide the public with an indication of the timing for the section 11 investigation, including when it can begin, and what steps will be undertaken to complete the investigation. The Board is requesting that, if the section 11 investigation must still await the outcome of any appeal, a fulsome public update be provided, enhancing both transparency and accountability in this process.
At this time, P.C. Theriault remains suspended with pay, in accordance with the Police Service Act. It should be noted that a Professional Standards investigation into P.C. Theriault’s conduct had already commenced, but was suspended pending the conclusion of the court proceedings. That investigation will now resume.
This case has highlighted significant issues regarding public trust, accountability and transparency in policing, even more so during a time where, here in Toronto and in places around the world, these issues are at the forefront of public discussion and dialogue. In this case and others, the Board is committed to ensuring that where we can learn from what occurred, and make improvements to our training, procedures, systems and culture, we will do so. Our priority must always remain serving and protecting the public in an effective and equitable manner, incorporating community expectations and experiences into the work that we do. We must continue to focus on this priority, informed by cases like this one, as well as by a genuine and sustained desire to move forward, in partnership with the community.
Contact: Sandy Murray