Father of Toronto police officer convicted of Dafonte Miller attack was at scene, but did not interfere with investigation: report

TORONTO – Father of Toronto police officer convicted of assaulting Dafonte Miller attended the beating scene near his home to support his sons as investigation began into the attack from 2016, according to a new report from the Waterloo Region Police.

But the report found no evidence that Det. John Thériault, who worked in the Professional Standards Unit of the Toronto Police Service and is the father of Const. Michael Thériault, tried to influence the decision not to inform the province’s Special Investigation Unit, according to the report.

“The Waterloo Regional Police Service review confirmed that John Theriault was present at the scene of the incident to support his sons after the confrontation (coming from his home which was the scene of the initial interaction and in the neighborhood ) “, the report reads.

“WRPS [Waterloo Regional Police Service] could not find any information or indication that he exercised undue influence in this matter or became involved in this matter, or was involved in any decision regarding the SIU notification, ”the report said.

The report – a supplement to one presented to the Toronto Police Services Board last year – is the latest to describe the events surrounding the brutal attack on Miller, which has ignited tensions between the TPS and Toronto’s black community. and highlighted the gaps in police accountability.

The author, the superintendent. Eugene Fenton said he was trying to address “an important public scrutiny” on the role of Elder Theriault and “a suggestion that John Theriault may have improperly influenced this investigation.”

Const. Michael Thériault was convicted of assault in an attack on Miller at approximately 2:45 am on December 28, 2016. Miller, then 19 years old, suffered a horrific eye injury.

Const. Thériault, who was off duty at the time, and his brother Christian, had told the court that they had sued Miller and his friends, suspecting that they had barged into their truck which was parked outside their home in Whitby. Miller had said that he and two friends were just walking down the street.

The Thériault caught up with Miller and Const. Thériault beat him violently with a metal pipe. When Durham Regional Police arrived at the scene, an officer turned over to Const. Thériault handcuffs to detain Miller, according to the WRPS report, and Const. Thériault searched Miller.

Const. Michael Thériault was found guilty of assault in connection with the December 2016 attack and sentenced to nine months in prison. Christian Thériault, who was also indicted in connection with the attack on Miller, was acquitted.

Thériault had asked to be released while appealing his conviction and his nine-month sentence to the Supreme Court of Canada, a request which was subsequently rejected.

Toronto Police SIU liaison officers did not notify the SIU of the attack. However, Miller himself, through his attorney, filed a report.

Since then, Toronto Police have updated their policies to include that the SIU must be called in the event of death or serious injury when a police officer detains or apprehends a person outside. service. TPS chief James Ramer also apologized.

“Trust has been broken between the police, Dafonte Miller and the community at large. For that, on behalf of the Toronto Police Service, I want to apologize, ”Ramer said in 2020.

The question of what role Det. John Thériault played was brought up in a lawsuit brought by Miller and his family against the TPS and other officers involved.

Miller alleged in the notice of claim that Thériault “had engaged in a conspiracy with PC [Michael] Theriault, Christian Theriault and investigators in an attempt to cover up the criminal conduct of his sons and further injure Dafonte Miller.

“In addition, Detective John Theriault did not notify his employer, the SPT Board of Directors, that his son PC Theriault had been involved in an incident with a member of the public which resulted in serious bodily injury, so that the SIU could be notified and an investigation initiated. “

A notice of intention to defend has been filed in the Ontario Superior Court.

CTV News Toronto has contacted Det. Thériault but did not receive an answer.

Retail Thériault was also the subject of an OIPRD [Office of the Independent Police Review Director] investigate his role in the incident. Det Thériault resigned in 2020 and retired officers are no longer subject to the jurisdiction of the OIPRD.

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