Top officer denies culture of silence in G20 case

The head of the Toronto Police Association says it is "absolutely absurd" to suggest officers conspired to protect colleagues accused of breaking a man's shoulder at a G20 protest.

The head of the Toronto Police Association says it is "absolutely absurd" to suggest officers conspired to protect colleagues accused of breaking a man's shoulder at a G20 protest.

Mike McCormack said in an interview with CBC's Metro Morning on Tuesday that he felt justice had been served in the case of Dorian Barton, who was hurt at a June 26 protest at Queen's Park.

The Special Investigations Unit, a provincial police watchdog, last week concluded their second investigation into the incident and found no police were criminally responsible, in part because 11 officers who witnessed the incident couldn't identify those who allegedly inflicted the injuries.

Civilian witnesses told the SIU that Barton, who was taking pictures of mounted police officers, was struck with a riot shield and then hit with a baton after he fell to the ground. Neither Barton himself nor the civilian witnesses could identify any perpetrators.

In the wake of the SIU's findings, critics have accused the Toronto Police Service of fostering a "blue wall of silence" when one of its officers is involved in allegations of wrongdoing.

McCormack brushed aside such criticisms.

"Our officers … have fully complied. They fully co-operated. To suggest otherwise or to suggest that there's 11 officers from across the city that threw up this blue wall and conspired to protect this guy is absolutely absurd," he said.

McCormack said officers who were policing the Queen's Park protest were from various divisions across the city. He said many of those involved "were not even part of the same team" and didn't work closely together day-to-day.

"To say that they could not is a more accurate statement than to say that they would not," he said.

The SIU's first probe into the incident was closed after the agency determined it was unclear who caused Barton's injuries or how he received them. But it was re-opened after seven new pictures were submitted.

Barton alleges six officers "viciously assaulted" him and that the seventh, the one who oversaw the charges against him, "knew there was no basis to charge Dorian and did so knowing Dorian was innocent."

The SIU is an arm's-length provincial agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.

With files from The Canadian Press