Ombudsman should apologize for ID'ing wrong cop for offensive tweets: lawyer
The Durham Regional Police logo is seen in this file photo.
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, August 27, 2013 4:56PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 27, 2013 9:49PM EDT
WHITBY, Ont. -- Ontario's ombudsman should apologize to a Durham region police detective for wrongly accusing him of tweeting offensive remarks, the lawyer for the officer said Tuesday.
The backlash comes a day after Durham police said a stream of offensive tweets directed at Andre Marin were the work of a police officer -- but not the one the ombudsman had publicly identified.
"We are seeking a formal public apology from Mr. Marin," Gary Hopkinson, lawyer for Det.-Const. Scott Dennis, said Tuesday evening in an email.
In an interview, however, Marin said he doesn't see the need for an apology "at this time," and declined to comment on whether he had spoken with Dennis or Hopkinson.
"I'm happy to give one if that's what the officer deserves," he added.
Marin noted that the Durham police force had also been quick to demand an apology from him, but the ombudsman suggested he deserved some sympathy from the police chief as well.
"What about an apology for being the victim of hate mail by one of his finest," he said.
Durham police Chief Mike Ewles could not immediately be reached for comment.
The tweets from a Twitter account under the name "Joe Mayo" called Marin a "card carrying member of Al Qaida" and told him not to stick his nose "in business it doesn't belong."
The tweets appeared moments before Marin was to give a press conference on the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim in an altercation with police on a Toronto streetcar.
Tweets from the same account had previously been sent to a Toronto city councillor, criticizing her position on Yatim's death on July 27.
Marin said his staff identified the apparent name and badge number behind the account "within minutes" and took the step of naming him publicly -- and incorrectly.
Durham police said Dennis was on annual leave at the time and did not know about the existence of the account, which investigators said was set up by a fellow officer without his knowledge or consent.
In a statement Monday, Marin said he and Dennis were "duped" by the fake profile, a statement that drew ire from the officer's lawyer.
"Only one person was 'duped' in this matter, and that would appear to be, by his own admission, Mr. Marin," Hopkinson said. "My client was not duped. He was publicly exposed, unnecessarily, by the Ombudsman and held up to public contempt and attacks."
The last few weeks have been "extremely difficult" for Dennis, Hopkinson said, adding that the 12-year-veteran had received "very aggressive" emails and messages in the wake of Marin's statement.
Dennis is considering his legal options, Hopkinson said.
On Monday, Ewles called Dennis an "outstanding" officer and criticized Marin's response to the comments.
It's "troubling to me that a high-ranking public official like the Ombudsman of Ontario would rush to judgement and identify any person, without the benefit of some sort of objective investigation and evidence," Ewles said.
Ewles also said he's concerned that one of his officers allegedly used a fellow officer's information to create a fictitious Twitter account and then use it for "such offensive purposes."
"That officer will be held to account," he said.
A Durham regional police detective -- who will not be named until his Police Services Act hearing -- remains on duty but has been removed from his current assignment, police said.
Marin has said his staff will co-operate fully with the investigation and his IT and investigations staff will meet with the police force on Wednesday.