Man told to stop recording violent takedown gets apology from Toronto police sergeant
Sgt. Eduardo Miranda's apology was read at a Toronto police disciplinary hearing
A Toronto man who was ordered by police to stop shooting video of a violent takedown in January of 2017, and was told he was "going to get AIDS" if he didn't move back, received an apology Tuesday from an officer at a disciplinary hearing.
The incident happened near Dundas Street E. and Church Street while a man was being repeatedly stomped and tasered by police.
After Waseem Khan began shooting the takedown, Toronto police Sgt. Eduardo Miranda could be heard on Khan's video telling the other officers to "get this guy out of my face, please."
Another officer told Khan he would have to give up his phone and said the man they were arresting was going to "spit in your face. You're going to get AIDS. Stop recording."
Miranda's lawyer, Lawrence Gridin read his client's apology during Tuesday's hearing.
"Sgt. Miranda wishes to acknowledge that on January 24, 2017 he had no authority or grounds upon which to prohibit Mr. Khan from video recording the police interaction with a member of the public," Gridin said.
"Mr. Khan was acting lawfully, was not interfering with the arrest in any way, and had every right to film the police in the course of an arrest. Sgt. Miranda regrets interfering with Mr. Khan's attempt to film."
The charges against Miranda were withdrawn after he and Khan resolved the matter through mediation. Khan had complained to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, the civilian oversight agency that investigates complaints about police misconduct from the public.
Selwyn Pieters, Khan's lawyer, explained the ruling.
"There is no penalty because it was resolved by informal resolution and the contents of the resolution, except for the public apology that was made, is confidential," Pieters said.
"I think Sgt. Miranda was sorry for what he did, but for me the issue is systemically how do we address these injustices?" said Khan.
Khan recalls he was driving his children to a daycare when he saw a number of police officers surrounding a man on the ground near Dundas and Church Streets.
Khan says he saw an officer "actually kick him right in the head so I was quite alarmed at it. I told my wife ... I needed to record it. I am worried about this guy, so I grabbed my phone and jumped out."
"I saw the stomping, the tasing. I counted at least three or four times that this gentleman was tased. I was really worried he could die." Khan told CBC News.
"The man looked completely unresponsive. From what I could see, he wasn't moving. He wasn't resisting."
Pieters says the case is an important one because it brought about a change in Toronto police policy.
"The significance of this case is that there is now a written policy in respect to citizens videotaping police officers ... As well there, is an acknowledgement the police officer was totally outside of his remit in terms of how he dealt with Mr. Khan... so there is some accountability for bad behaviour on the part of the police," he said.
"Mr.Khan made a policy come into force that all police officers must abide by now in respect to how they treat citizens who are recording the police. If they do not follow that policy they can be subject to disciplinary action."
Pieters took on the case pro bono.
"I did that because Mr. Khan's case is a public interest case. Mr. Khan's case represented something that we want citizens to do especially when persons from racialized communities or persons in lower income communities... are being either brutalized or being treated badly by the police," he said.
"If Mr. Khan had not done that, then it would have been the police officer's word against [the man in the video's] word and that changed because of Mr. Khan's actions."
Khan hopes his case will make people feel more comfortable recording police.
Shooting video of police 'completely within' peoples' rights, lawyer says
"I think now the public ... should know it's completely within their rights to take their phones out and record police officers," he said.
"As long as they are not obstructing justice or getting in the way of police officers, they have every right to record."
Police Chief Mark Saunders says people have the right to record, but must keep their distance and there needs to be more public awareness about how to take video of the police.
Khan believes that can be done while still holding police accountable.
"I think there is an issue with the way police treat racialized communities and LGBTQ communities here in Toronto. I think we need to address it and hold police officers accountable," he said.
Khan hopes that his taking the case to the tribunal made a difference.
"I'd like to think I brought about some good from this, yeah."