The Canadian Bar Association
Criminal

Brauti presents emails showing senior officer support for Fenton's orders at G20

During a disciplinary hearing, Toronto criminal lawyer Peter Brauti presented emails from senior Toronto police officers indicating they supported a fellow officer’s decision to “kettle” hundreds of people during the G20 weekend, reports the Toronto Star.

One of those emails originated from former staff superintendent Jeff McGuire to Supt. David (Mark) Fenton on June 28, 2010, hours after Fenton ordered mass arrests, says the newspaper.

Fenton is the most senior officer charged under the Police Services Act in connection with the G20 summit; he is charged with unlawful arrest and discreditable conduct associated with his role in ordering mass arrests and “kettling,” which is a police tactic used to corral and box-in a group of people in an effort to control them, says The Star.

Brauti, partner at Brauti Thorning Zibarras LLP, is counsel to Fenton.

The email submissions came one day after the hearing officer ruled that Toronto police Chief Bill Blair won’t have to testify, says the newspaper.

During the hearing, Brauti was interrupted “when he began to ask Fenton questions about whether any superiors criticized his decision to make mass arrests,” says the article.

“I have an objection,” said the lawyer for the complainants, Adrienne Lei, to the hearing officer, reports the newspaper. “If I understood your ruling correctly, your ruling was that the evidence of (former) Deputy Chief (Tony) Warr and Chief Blair was irrelevant," the article says.

A former ruling from former Ontario Superior Court Justice John Hamilton said Blair and Warr’s testimony would be irrelevant to the hearing, says the article. 

Hamilton dismissed the concerns and allowed Brauti to continue with his questions, it continues.

Fenton testified that “when he arrived at police headquarters for his Sunday shift, he learned of an ‘imminent’ attack on a G20 fence — which he believed to be the perimeter fence, keeping protesters away from G20 leaders,” reports The Star. 

“This was the last opportunity, if you will, for the anarchists to fulfil their stated goal of taking down the fence,” Fenton told the tribunal. “It was now or never.”

He said he believed that police had “sufficient grounds to arrest for breach of the peace” when he learned protesters were trying to move south — in the direction of the fence and that there were as many as 20 people linked to violent Black Bloc tactics in the crowd, says the article.

“Based on this sort of constellation ... I believe that we had sufficient grounds to arrest for breach of the peace,” he said.

But he said he told another officer, Staff Insp. David Marks, to tell police to use discretion with arrests, says the article. 

“I said to him, ‘I do not want young kids on bikes ... I don’t want old people. I don’t want people going about their daily business being arrested,’ ” said Fenton.

The disciplinary hearing resumes March 9 with lawyers’ final submissions not expected until June, says the newspaper.

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