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'It's haunting': Victim alleges he was beaten, groped by Toronto cop
Published Thursday, August 24, 2017 4:16PM EDT Last Updated Thursday, August 24, 2017 7:22PM EDT
A man who was allegedly beaten by a Toronto cop in 2015 is speaking out after an officer was charged by the province’s Special Investigations Unit with assault yesterday.
The incident occurred on Nov. 30, 2015, in front of an apartment complex at 300 Queen’s Drive, in the Maple Leaf Drive and Jane Street area.
When officers arrived at the location to investigate a 911 call, a man was there sitting in the back seat of a cab, according to an SIU news release.
Police then arrested the man, who sustained serious injuries in the process, according to the SIU. The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he was kneed in the back, groped in his genital area during a search and then thrown into asphalt, suffering a concussion.
The SIU started their investigation when they learned of the incident in 2016, nearly one year after it allegedly took place.
The victim discussed details of the incident on Thursday afternoon at the African Canadian Legal Clinic on Dundas Street West.
“It’s haunting,” he said. “It’s a lot of emotions. I really couldn’t explain it to you day to day.”
He told media at the meeting that he was just going out to see a friend on the night of the incident.
“I told the cab driver where I was heading to and usually they don’t even ask you. They just start driving because they want to make their money right away so I kind of found it weird that he was just standing there,” he said. “I told him where I wanted to go and then I noticed the officers jump out, come out of the car.”
He said an officer asked for his identification and asked him where he was from. He said he told the officer he didn’t have an ID on him and suggested they go inside his residence to retrieve it.
“He still didn’t believe that I was a resident at that address,” he said. He then asked the officer why police were in the area and he said police told him that they were following up on reports of gunfire.
“I alerted the officer that I was not aware and I’d been home for maybe a couple hours prior. He said, ‘Well, I don’t know who you are. I don’t know your name, so I’m just going to have to take you under arrest.’ At that moment I notice the cab windows start to wind down. It was two officers and the one named officer (who) began a tug-of-war like motion with my body,” he said.
He was then pulled out of the cab, he said, and “put into a headlock.” He alleged that while officers searched him, his genitals “were groped.” During the arrest, he said the officer also kneed him in the back, threw him on the ground, and slammed his head into the concrete.
“The named officer was kicking my head,” he said.
“It was very traumatic for me, adding that at the time, not just in the local area but globally, a lot of African-American males or people of African-American descent were being killed at a very alarming rate so that intensified the emotional distress I was under,” he said.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
The SIU was never called, nor was an ambulance even though the victim was unconscious, said the African Canadian Legal Clinic’s executive director Margaret Parsons at the meeting on Thursday afternoon.
“The brother came, got his mother,” she said. “They witnessed this. The police just didn't charge him, left him, left it up to his family to deal with his bruised and battered body."
It took many more months before he felt he was ready to approach the clinic, which then launched an investigation. The SIU was told about the alleged beating in October of last year.
“We’re here today to say that we are fed up with the brutality that is continuously experienced by members of the black community,” Parsons said.
At a Toronto Police Services Board meeting on Thursday, Chief Mark Saunders said it is up to the courts to determine innocence or guilt.
“There are moments when things, you know, may come across as needing to be explored better and that's why we have oversights. I think oversight is important for us. It helps make us better in the long run," he said.
On Wednesday, the SIU identified Toronto Police Services Const. Joseph Dropulijic in connection to the alleged beating and charged him with one count of assault.
He is scheduled to make a court appearance on Sept. 7