The Toronto cop convicted in a severe beating of Dafonte Miller in Whitby in 2016 has been sentenced to nine months in jail. Const. Michael Theriault had been found guilty of assault in connection with a December 2016 attack on 19-year-old Black man.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Joseph Di Luca called the assault on Miller as an act of “gratuitous violence on a person who was vulnerable.”
“It would have been obvious that Mr. Miller was injured and bleeding… it would have been obvious he was in retreat, seeking help.”
“These are offences that shatter a community’s trust in the system,” Di Luca said. “This type of offence requires a heightened degree of denunciation.”
Earlier Miller testified that he was in the area of Thickson Road and William Stephenson Drive of Oshawa with a friend in the early morning hours of Dec. 28, 2016 when he was chased down and assaulted by Theriault and his brother.
Miller said Michael Theriault brutally beat him with a metal pipe, resulting in what the judge described as a “horrific eye injury.”
Miller was left blind in one eye following the incident and now wears a prosthetic.
The brothers told the court that the altercation took place after they attempted to arrest Miller for trying to break in to a car parked in the driveway of their parents’ home.They claimed the assault on Miller was in self-defence.
In his decision, Ontario Superior Court Justice Joseph Di Luca found that Michael Theriault was not acting in self-defence or trying to make a lawful arrest when he struck Miller in the face with a four-foot long metal pipe near the end of the altercation, after his eye had already been badly damaged.
For this reason, Theriault, who was initially charged with aggravated assault, was only found guilty of simple assault.
Theriault’s brother, who was also charged in connection with the attack on Miller, was acquitted.
Di Luca said while Theriault is a “relatively youthful” first-time offender, a conditional sentence would not be appropriate in this case, noting that “real jail time” would be necessary to adequately denounce this type of conduct.
As a part of Theriault’s sentence, he must serve 12 months probation after he is released from jail and the judge also imposed a five-year weapons prohibition order noting that Theriault’s career in policing is likely over and he will therefore no longer need to be licensed to carry a firearm.
Theriault was suspended from the Toronto Police Service in July 2017.He is expected to be granted bail pending an appeal. The Crown is also appealing Theriault’s acquittal on the more serious charge of aggravated assault.