One Year Later: An Update on G20 Legal Cases
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One Year Later: An Update on G20 Legal Cases

In front of Toronto Police Headquarters on June 28, 2010. Photo by chromewaves from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

The Toronto-hosted G20 last June was the scene of the largest mass arrest in Canadian history—more than 900 civilians in one weekend. Most of those arrested were not charged, and many of the charges that were pressed were dropped in the aftermath of the summit. To many of us, the G20 is a faded, nightmarish memory of what our city could look like. A story we tell when out-of-towners comment on Toronto’s beauty and peaceful streets. A year after world leaders packed up shop, though our streets were cleaned and our windowpanes fixed, some people are still enmeshed in lawsuits stemming from the G20. Here are the updates.

Police Officers Charged

Despite hundreds of complaints and many investigations, two officers have been charged in G20-related incidents: Constable Babak Andalib-Goortani and Constable Glenn Weddell. While many incidents depicting what appears to be excessive police force during the G20 have been caught on tape, identifying the police involved in the alleged abuses has been complicated by the so-called “blue wall of silence” and many officers’ failures to wear their ID badges throughout the G20 Summit. In November 2010, Chief of Toronto Police Service Bill Blair announced that approximately 90 officers faced disciplinary action for failing to wear their IDs during the G20.
Constable Babak Andalib-Goortani was the first officer who faced charges stemming from the G20. In December of 2010, nearly six months after the alleged incident took place, the Special Investigations Unit—a provincial task force that conducts investigations of events or incidents involving police that result in serious injury, death, or sexual assault allegations—charged Andalib-Goortani with assault with a weapon in connection with the arrest of Adam Nobody on June 26. Caught on tape is Nobody with his face down, arms held behind his back, and a shielded police officer’s fist smashing into his face. Nobody told reporters that he was an innocent bystander, busying himself with making a “Let Donna Graduate” sign (a joke shout-out to the TV show Beverly Hills 90210) when the police approached him.
After the incident, which was caught on tape, Nobody alleges that he “was handcuffed, taken behind a police van and kicked repeatedly in the head by two plainclothes officers” at Queen’s Park. Since that incident was not videotaped, it will be nearly impossible to ascertain the identity of the officers. The incident involving Andalib-Goortani was captured on film.
In addition to the SIU investigation, this February Andalib-Goortani was arrested and charged by Toronto Police Services in a separate incident of assault with a weapon on the same day, June 26. According to the Toronto Star, Andalib-Goortani continues to work on administrative duties at 31 Division and has not been suspended with or without pay.
Earlier this month, the SIU charged Constable Glenn Weddell with assault causing bodily harm in connection with the arrest of Dorian Barton, a Toronto pastry-maker, nearly a year after the alleged attack took place. As we reported recently, Dorian Barton suffered a broken arm and multiple bruises after being tackled by police and arrested on June 26. Weddell has been suspended from 11 Division with pay and will next appear in court on July 21.

Officers arrest a protester at Queen’s Park on June 25. Photo by Louis Tam from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

Byron Sonne

Certainly the most drawn-out case is that of Byron Sonne, a 38-year-old computer consultant who was arrested prior to the summit, on June 22, in relation to the G20, only to be released on bail last month, after 330 days in prison. Initially charged with six counts, the only two that remain are “possession of explosive for an unlawful purpose” and the recently added charge of “counselling the commission of mischief not committed in relation to activities in the days leading up to last summer’s G20 summit in Toronto.”
While Sonne was last month’s Toronto Life cover story, little information about the charges against Sonne is known due to a court-ordered publication ban. Sonne’s strict bail conditions, however, are known: Sonne must reside with his parents, is not allowed to contact his estranged wife or her family, and is barred from using computers or the internet except for employment-related activities. In addition, Sonne is not allowed contact with any of the accused G20 protest ringleaders. Sonne’s parents’ home is also subject to random weekly police searches, without a warrant. His trial begins November 7.

Jaggi Singh

There are 17 accused ringleaders in the G20 protests who have accrued various charges including mischief, criminal conspiracy, and counselling mischief. Among them is well-known activist Jaggi Singh, who pleaded guilty in April 2011 to counselling mischief in encouraging people to tear down the G20 security fence. Singh did not apologize for his actions as part of his plea agreement. He faces a possible six-month jail term and two years probation. Just today, Singh received a sentence of 69 days in prison, but, due to the bail conditions he has been under since last year, as well as six days already served during his pre-trial custody, he was released, though he will serve 12 months probation. Because of his guilty plea on the counselling to commit mischief charge, the conspiracy charge was dropped. It was also granted that Singh won’t have to apologize for his actions or testify at other G20 trials.

Protesters travel along the security fence during the G20 weekend. Photo by picfreedom from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

Class Action Suits

Two class action lawsuits have been filed as a result of the detainment, arrests, and assaults of civilians during the G20. In early July, the public will learn which class action suit will be allowed to proceed to certification. The first—launched in August 2010 against the Toronto Police Services Board and the Attorney General of Canada, who represents the RCMP—seeks $45 million in damages. The suit’s representative plaintiff is Sherry Good. While the suit covers everyone arrested or detained in relation to the G20 on June 26 and June 27, it does not cover anyone who was charged except for those specifically charged at a U of T gymnasium on June 27.
The second class action lawsuit was launched in September against the Toronto Police Services Board, the Attorney General of Canada, and the Regional Municipality of Peel Police Services Board and seeks $115 million in damages. The faces of this lawsuit are Miranda McQuade and Mike Barber. The second suit claims to be more encompassing, including all persons detained, assaulted, arrested, or charged by the police on June 26 and June 27 in relation to the G20, and all people detained at the Eastern Detention Centre between June 25 and June 30 in relation to the G20.

For complete G20 retrospective coverage, go to One Year Later.