Toronto police officer resigns over conviction in 2016 attack on Dafonte Miller

Michael Theriault, the Toronto police officer convicted of the high-profile off-duty assault of young black man Dafonte Miller, has resigned from the Toronto Police Service.

Theriault’s departure, announced at a Toronto police tribunal on Tuesday, concludes a saga that began more than five years ago on the cold December night when Theriault chased Miller down a residential Whitby street and attacked him in a collision that left Miller blind in one hand. eye.

Theriault was convicted of assault in June 2020 and later sentenced to nine months in prison by Ontario Court Justice Joseph Di Luca, whose sentencing decision was hailed as “groundbreaking” for charging systemic anti-black racism and denouncing attacks like those on Miller.” destroy a community’s trust in the system.”

The Toronto officer has been suspended for nearly five years by the Toronto police. He was paid his full salary until he was sentenced to prison in November 2020. He has since been suspended without pay.

Theriault also faced charges of professional misconduct under the Ontario Police Services Act as a result of the attack. At the end of 2020, he submitted a plea of ​​not guilty to the tribunal.

But with a criminal conviction leading to jail time, Theriault faced the near certainty of discharge and resigned on April 19. Toronto Police Department prosecutor Alexandra Ciobotaru retracted the wrongdoing during a brief court appearance on Tuesday, as police no longer have jurisdiction.

Michael Lacy, Theriault’s attorney, said the outcome was the “obvious” result of a conviction and the exhaustion of his appeals (in July 2021, the Ontario Court of Appeals upheld Theriault’s conviction and sentence).

“The obvious consequence of being found guilty of that offense and receiving the sentence he has imposed is that he no longer has the privilege of being a police officer,” Lacy said on Tuesday.

“He accepts, as he must, that consequence.”

Already a high profile case, the Theriault trial attracted international attention in June 2020, when Di Luca found Theriault guilty of assaulting Miller in a December 2016 incident that culminated in a “unilateral beating”. It was fueled, the judge found, after Miller broke into the Theriault’s truck to steal change. The decision was broadcast on YouTube due to the COVID-19 and watched by thousands.

More to come.

Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter who covers crime and policing for the Star. Reach her by email at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter: @wendygillis

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