charges of "assault police" against a demonstrator arrested at October's Tory convention were soon dismissed after the court saw video footage of the arrest that told a different story. U of T grad student Derek Laventure is considering legal action against police now that charges are no longer hanging over his head.
"There's an increasingly clear trend in the use of "assault police' as a strategic measure by the police against protestors in order to criminalize dissent," he says.
PC Peter Murphy of 52 Division testified that Laventure interfered with an arrest by grabbing one officer's arm and swinging his placard at Murphy.
However, the video shows a plainclothes officer dragging a woman by a video camera strapped around her neck and Laventure raising his arm to show uniformed police officers what was happening.
"I got jumped from the side by Murphy, who threw me viciously against a garbage can," says Laventure. During the ensuing struggle, Laventure's eyes were bruised.
During a recess, Murphy spoke with the Crown attorney and the two decided to drop the charges, although they did not admit to any wrongdoing by any officers.
"He's clearly doing nothing (on the videotape) and trying to draw another cop's attention to the young woman being arrested," says Laventure's lawyer, Reid Rusonik. "He is just a gentle, non-violent person. He does nothing remotely aggressive."
In addition to his bruised face, Laventure says one of his bail conditions was that he had to appear every Friday at a bail centre.
Rusonik adds that his client's $10,000 bail was particularly harsh.
Although Laventure believes there's nothing new about charges of "assault police" at demonstrations, police spokesperson Sergeant Robb Knapper contends that police don't lay blanket charges against protestors.
"I think that is a totally inappropriate comment," he says. "We do not lay frivolous charges against people on those grounds."