Hamilton police officer Todoruck misses discipline hearing again

A Hamilton police officer that was found guilty in connection with arresting two photojournalists has again failed to show up for his disciplinary hearing.

Only attempts to contact Todoruck have been over police email, says hearing officer

This screen cap from a video at the scene shows Jeremy Cohn, photojournalist, being arrested by Const. Todoruck in May 2017. (Andrew Collins/CBC)

A Hamilton police officer that was found guilty in connection with arresting two photojournalists  has again failed to show up for his discipline hearing. 

The absence of the officer, Const. Jeff Todoruck made participants question whether he even knew the hearing was happening. 

"I can't guarantee you sir, that the officer has notice even of what we're doing today," said prosecutor Brian Duxbury.

Hearing officer Peter Lennox said the only attempts to contact Todoruck have been over his police email address. But the officer, said Duxbury, is still off work. 

Todoruck was found guilty of two counts of neglect of duty, one count of discreditable conduct and one count of unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority under the Police Services Act in a decision from Lennox on May 31.

He was not guilty of one count of discreditable conduct.

Duxbury said there's likely an ongoing WSIB matter that is waiting for adjudication. He did not get any more clarity from the Hamilton Police Service on Todoruck's status with the force. 

Lennox suggested that if the officer is off sick, Hamilton Police could go to his house, check-in on his well-being, and serve him notice of the hearings, in person.

But there may be no contact provisions, Duxbury said, which would limit their ability to visit him. 

Marco Visentini, who represents the Hamilton police, was present at the hearing, but had no information to add. He said they were limited about speaking on his health in a public hearing. 

The hearing arose from an incident in May 2017, where Todoruck arrested then-Global News TV camera operator Jeremy Cohn and independent freelancer Dave Ritchie at the scene of a Waterdown crash where a young girl had died.

WATCH | Photojournalists arrested: 

Journalist arrest caught on tape

5 years ago
Duration 1:23
Video shows one of two cameramen who were arrested at the scene where a young girl died in Hamilton in 2017.

A video from the scene shows Todoruck pinning Cohn to the ground with his knee, cuffing him with zip ties, and pulling him to a police cruiser. Cohn was released without charge. 

Todoruck took Ritchie's camera before handcuffing him and putting him in the cruiser. Ritchie was charged with resisting arrest and obstructing a peace officer, but those charges were later dropped.

The hearing will now be adjourned until information is received on what has happened to Todoruck.

While it can be frustrating, Duxbury said, the processes "just takes time to get through" and he would not want to proceed without notice to him. 

Todoruck did not show up for the last hearing in August, which left participants frustrated. His status was also not known then, and it was suggested that an HR representative could bring some clarity. 

On whether participants could justify proceeding without Todoruck's presence, hearing officer Peter Lennox said "we are not at that point yet." 

A conference call will take place on March 5, 2021 to check in on the matter. 

With files from Dan Taekema