TORONTO — A police sergeant who choked a compliant man he arrested illegally at the G20 summit five years ago and then lied about it was handed a two-month demotion to constable Friday.
In sentencing Sgt. Michael Ferry, retired justice Lee Ferrier was blunt in his assessment.
“The factual findings in this matter reflect particularly serious misconduct,” Ferrier wrote.
“Sgt. Ferry was found to have given incredible testimony under oath that can only have been deliberately dishonest.”
The officer’s dishonesty was but one of several aggravating factors Ferrier said he found in the case.
Other factors included Ferrier’s previous disciplinary findings involving “serious dishonesty,” the fact that he was a supervisor whose illegal retaliatory conduct had occurred in full public view, and that he had failed to respect a citizen’s right to be left alone.
At the same time, Ferrier decided the financial consequences of a one-year demotion — as the prosecution had wanted — would be too severe.
“A 12-month demotion would potentially have extraordinary financial consequences, not only during the demotion period, but continuing for the rest of his life in his reduced pension entitlement,” Ferrier said.
“I am also of the view that a reprimand as an additional penalty in this case adds little because of the severity of a demotion.”
The defence had asked for Ferry to be docked 10 days pay and given a reprimand.
Ferry, a 26-year police veteran, arrested Ryan Mitchell on June 27, 2010, a day after vandals ran amok in the downtown core. Ferrier had previously found him guilty of misconduct under the Police Services Act for illegally arresting Mitchell and using excessive force against the PhD student.
According to the evidence, Mitchell was in an area where police had arrested about a dozen people. At one point, in what was otherwise a calm situation with police in complete control, Ferry threatened to arrest Mitchell if he didn’t leave.
Mitchell complied by walking away, but told Ferry to “get off it.”
In response, Ferry charged at the much smaller man, threw him face down to the ground, and choked him for 30 seconds until he was handcuffed, all the while screaming at him to stop biting. Mitchell spent eight hours under detention at a notorious temporary prison police had set up for the summit.
Based on witness testimony and videotaped evidence, Ferrier called the alleged biting a “ruse” and said the officer was willing to say anything, “however absurd,” to defend himself.
“The tribunal must impose a penalty that denounces and deters groundless retaliatory arrests of civilians by any Toronto police officer,” Ferrier said.
Spokesman Mark Pugash would not comment on the decision but said the police service would look at Ferrier’s comments on the sergeant’s dishonesty.
Ferrier also sentenced co-accused Sgt. Douglas Rose, who helped in Mitchell’s arrest and was convicted of the same offences as Ferry, to forfeit five days pay and a reprimand.
The penalty for the 26-year veteran had been jointly requested by prosecution and defence.
“Rose’s conduct was a sole event in an otherwise unblemished career,” Ferrier said.
Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press