Defence lawyer accuses complainant of swearing, spitting at officer in police disciplinary case

The defence lawyer for a Toronto police officer facing disciplinary charges for the alleged unlawful arrest of a group of teenagers, says the main complainant in the case was belligerent and spat in the officer's face on the night of Nov. 21, 2011.

Const. Adam Lourenco's lawyer Lawrence Gridin presents a different story of what happened on Nov. 21, 2011

The main complainant, who was 15 at the time of the incident, alleges Const. Adam Lourenco attacked and arrested him. The man, now 21, was cross-examined during the disciplinary hearing for the officers Wednesday. (Pam Davies)

The defence lawyer for a Toronto police officer facing disciplinary charges for the alleged unlawful arrest of a group of  teenagers, says the main complainant in the case was belligerent and spat in the officer's face on the night of Nov. 21, 2011.

On Wednesday, Const. Adam Lourenco's lawyer Lawrence Gridin continued with his cross-examination of the main complainant.  

Last week, the young man testified that Lourenco and his partner Const. Scharnil Pais stopped the group, and that Lourenco struck him several times in the course of arresting him, his brother, and their two friends. 

Lourenco has been charged with two counts of discreditable conduct. 

He and Pais have also been charged with unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority under the Police Services Act. 

The charges are not criminal and have not been proven. 

The complainant said Lourenco was "aggressive " as he approached the four teenagers in their neighbourhood of Neptune Drive. 

The now 21-year-old has testified that he was asked for identification and told by Lourenco there had been a robbery and the group matched the description of the suspects.

The young man said after being told he wasn't under arrest he tried to exercise his right to leave and that's when he was allegedly "attacked" by Lourenco.

The whole incident was caught on surveillance cameras but there is no audio of the verbal exchange.

"I'm going to tell you what I think happened that night," Gridin said as he cross-examined the main complainant, who cannot be named because he was 15 at the time. The lawyer said his client approached the group in a calm manner and he told the tribunal the video evidence supported that.

On November 21, 2011, a then 15-year old, his twin brother and two of their friends, aged 15 and 16, were heading over to a neighbourhood mentorship program after dinner in Lawrence Heights, where they lived. 5:36

The complainant disagreed and again said the two officers stopped their vehicle abruptly in the middle of the parking lot and that Lourenco approached aggressively.

Gridin says at no time did his client say the teenagers matched the description of robbery suspects and that in fact he was trying to explain what Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (TAVIS) was.

He said his client asked whether they lived in the area and asked the complainant to identify himself.

The defence lawyer suggested that the officer said he had the right to do so under the Trespass to Property Act, and that the teen refused and became belligerent. 

Gridin suggested when his client told the complainant he was under arrest, the teen said "f--k you" and then "spat in his face."

Several times the complainant said he disagreed with Gridin's version of events. 

Conflicting statements 

Gridin accused the complainant of making statements during the hearing that he never alleged in previous statements to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD), in a civil lawsuit that was settled and to investigators for the hearing. 

Last week, the witness testified that during the incident Lourenco cut his thumb on his utility belt and said, "Look, now you've assaulted a police officer," and then wiped it on the teenager.

On Wednesday, Gridin said his client accidently cut his thumb and never blamed it on the complainant. 

Lourenco's lawyer Lawrence Gridin questioned the complainant about whether he sustained injuries that night and showed him the booking video. 'You agree on this tape you were specifically asked if you had any medical issues and you said no?' The complainant said "correct." (Pam Davies)

The lawyer then presented the OIPRD statement from 2012, and the witness agreed he never mentioned the officer wiping blood on him. 

Previously the complainant testified he was not told of his rights, denied medical attention and was denied the use of a washroom until he was transported to court the next morning.  

Gridin presented video evidence from the complainant being booked and images from his cell that show a toilet to contradict those statements.

Gridin also questioned the complainant's accusation that he was punched multiple times, including in the head, causing injuries and breaking a bracket from his braces.

The complainant had testified that soon after the incident he went to see his orthodontist to get his braces fixed.

 Gridin presented an email from an office administrator that showed no record of the visit. 

The complainant later explained to the prosecutor that he didn't know why his visit wasn't recorded.

He said he did go to get his bracket fixed and "they didn't charge me. My ortho is pretty nice." 

The other officer

Previously the main complainant testified that while he was talking to Lourenco that night, Pais was standing behind him and interacted with the other three teens, including the complainant's twin brother.  

"[Pais was] never disrespectful to you?" Pais's lawyer Joanne Mulcahy asked the witness.

"Correct," said the complainant. He also agreed that Pais did not arrest him.

As for what exactly took place that night, Mulcahy suggested to the main complainant that he had watched the video over time and that his memory could have been influenced by that.

The hearing continues Thursday with the third complainant testifying. 

About the Author

Makda Ghebreslassie

CBC Toronto reporter

Makda is a CBC Video-Journalist, who from time to time fills in as TV news anchor and a newsreader on Here and Now and Fresh Air. She worked in newsrooms in Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie and Windsor before moving back home to Toronto.