Closing arguments begin in G20 asault trial
A police officer accused of assault at a G20 protest only used as much force as he needed to subdue a protester resisting arrest amid a "complete breakdown of ordered society," court heard Friday.
Const. Babak Andalib-Goortani's actions were a "textbook example" of police training, his lawyer said in closing submissions.
Adam Nobody, a 30-year-old stage hand, was singled out for arrest at a demonstration June 26, 2010, at the Ontario legislature and was tackled as he ran from police.
Andalib-Goortani saw four other officers struggling to restrain Nobody on the ground and the officer jabbed Nobody with his baton three times toward his thigh, his lawyer said. He then stopped and stood up once his fellow officers managed to get Nobody into handcuffs, Harry Black said in his closing arguments.
Andalib-Goortani used force, but it was not excessive or criminal, as the Crown alleges, Black said.
"In the midst of an altercation, an attempt to arrest someone, it's almost as if they are suggesting that police should stop and say, 'If I let you up will you behave yourself?"' Black said.
The city was under siege that day by a group of destructive protesters who had broken away from a peaceful march and began vandalizing Toronto's downtown core. Protesters had been hurling rocks, flammable projectiles and anything else they could find at officers, Black said.
At one point police were ordered to run away from the violent demonstrators and it was in that context that Nobody's arrest took place, Black told the court.
"There was in Toronto that day a complete breakdown of ordered society," Black said. "It shocked the conscience of the city in that it was an outbreak of brazen lawlessness, crime, disorder and violence that no one had ever seen or even imagined."
Andalib-Goortani's training had not prepared him for those conditions, and, as part of an arrest team and not the public order unit who wore so-called riot gear, he had no shield and no protective clothing beyond a helmet, Black said.
"It would be impossible given the conditions that these people were operating under for someone to credibly argue that these officers could not have believed that in these circumstances it was important to do an effective and decisive arrest as quickly as possible because they are at risk," he said.
Nobody denies resisting arrest and testified that he doesn't know why police singled him out. By his account he had spent some time observing the protest, chatting with a friend, going to buy beer and returning to make a funny poster only to be arrested.
But several police officers testified that Nobody had been inciting the crowd for hours before his arrest, taunting and swearing at police, threatening to kick their heads in and urging fellow protesters not to obey police orders. He can be seen in the background of a local newscast played in court standing just a few feet away from a police line, facing the officers. Black seized on that image.
"I liken Mr. Nobody's actions in front of that police line to the actions of a field general back in the days where wars were fought between opposing lines of warriors facing each other," he said. "Mr. Nobody was like that. He was on the front line with those people urging them on."
Earlier in the trial court was shown a photo of three bruises on Nobody's right side. He alleges those bruises were caused by the jabs from Andalib-Goortani's baton.
The defence called a top forensic pathologist to testify that it was unlikely those bruises came from a baton. More likely, he said, they were caused by kicks. Black noted that Nobody has also said plainclothes police officers beat him up before they loaded him onto a paddywagon that day, including kicking him in the side.
"The Crown has completely failed if it is attempting to prove that my client caused those bruises," Black said.
Andalib-Goortani has pleaded not guilty to assault with a weapon.
It's agreed that Nobody's arrest was lawful, but the judge must decide if the force Andalib-Goortani used was lawful.