An off-duty Toronto police officer has been found guilty of assaulting Dafonte Miller, a Black man who lost an eye during the altercation three years ago. His brother has been acquitted of all charges.
Michael Theriault was convicted of assault on Friday, but found not guilty of aggravated assault or obstruction of justice in relation to the Dec. 28, 2016 incident involving Dafonte Miller, which left him blinded in one eye.
The officer’s brother, Christian Theriault, was acquitted of aggravated assault and obstruction of justice.
Const. Theriault and his younger brother Christian were jointly charged with aggravated assault in connection with an altercation that took place on a residential street in Whitby, Ont on Dec. 28, 2016.
Michael, who was 24 years old at the time and had been a member of the Toronto Police Service since 2014, has been found guilty of the lesser charge of assault and Christian has been found not guilty in the incident.
The pair was separately charged with obstruction of justice as well, which they have both been found not guilty of.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Joseph Di Luca delivered the verdict during a virtual hearing on Friday morning.
In the early morning hours of Dec. 28, 2016, Miller, who was 19 years old at the time, previously told the court he was walking with friends in Whitby, Ont, near Thickson Road and William Stephenson Drive, when he passed by two men standing inside a garage.
During the judge-alone trial in fall of 2019, Miller testified that Const. Michael Theriault and his brother Christian started questioning him and his friends about why they were in the area before chasing him between two homes.
Miller told the court he was then beaten so badly that he could barely feel anything anymore and only realized how serious his injuries were once he started seeing blood pouring from his face onto the ground.
Miller testified that he was placed in a headlock by a man with long hair, believed to be Christian Theriault, while a man with short hair, believed to be Michael Theriault, struck him. Miller said he was able to squirm out of the headlock after feeling something hard hit his head.
That is when he saw the pipe for the first time, he said.
Miller said he then got up off the ground and began moving towards the door of a nearby house in search for help.
He then felt more hits from the pipe as he knocked on the door and was struck twice on the left side of his face when he turned around, he said.
According to Miller’s lawyers, his left eye was dislodged from its socket and was split in four, causing him to permanently lose vision in that eye. His lawyers also stated that Miller suffered a broken nose, broken orbital bone, bruised ribs, and a fractured wrist.