The off-duty Toronto cop who took out a young Black man's eye in 2016 has been found guilty of assault. The incident happened in Whitby, Ontario on December 28, 2016, leaving then-19-year-old Dafonte Miller without an eye. The Dafonte Miller case finally yielded a verdict on Friday, June 26.
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Michael Theriault, who was an off-duty officer with Toronto Police at the time of the incident, was found guilty of assault on Friday by a Superior Court judge.
However, Theriault was found not guilty on the higher charge, which would have been aggravated assault.
His brother, Christian, who also allegedly participated in the attack, walked away with no charges.
Michael Theriault was 24 at the time of the incident, according to CP24. He had been in the Toronto Police force since 2014 but has been suspended with pay pending a verdict.
The two brothers had allegedly beaten Miller with a pipe after questioning why he was in a certain residential neighbourhood in Whitby, allegedly accusing him of breaking into cars in the area.
The injuries were serious and apparently included a dislodged left eye that was split in four, causing blindness.
Miller also suffered a broken nose, broken orbital bone, bruised ribs, and a fractured wrist as a result of the ordeal.
Justice Joseph Di Luca ruled out the aggravated assault charge on Friday.
Just GUILTY of assault - NOT any of the other charges?? Dafonte Miller was ATTACKED WITH A PIPE AND LOST HIS EYE.… https://t.co/Ac8V0KjLKh— Dr. Jill Andrew (@Dr. Jill Andrew) 1593195580.0
The Theriaults have also been acquitted of obstruction of justice, something they had both been charged for upon their arrest.
Immediately following the decision on Friday, which comes after weeks of protests in support of Black people and defunding police, there were suggestions that the punishment handed to the brothers is not strong enough.
And a petition has already been started in the name of "Justice for Dafonte."
Miller's lawyers maintain the attack was racially motivated. Justice Di Luca responded that the case has raised "significant issues involving race and policing that should be further examined," CBC reports.
However, he said his job was not to conduct a public inquiry on race and policing but to determine a ruling for the case based on the evidence.
Per the Toronto Star's Wendy Gillis, Theriault will remain on bail — and on the Toronto Police Service, albeit suspended — until he is sentenced.
A statement from Miller and his lawyer Julian Falconer read, in part: "While I am disappointed that both Michael and Christian Theriault were not convicted of all charges, I am grateful that Justice Di Luca found Michael Theriault guilty of assaulting me."
Falconer called the verdict "important progress" in holding police services accountable.