June 10, 2011
Toronto police Const. Glenn Weddell (L), shown here on June 9, 2011, appears next to a photo of the officer who witnesses claim struck Dorian Barton during Toronto's G20 summit in 2010.STEVE RUSSELL/ANDREW WALLAC
Police Const. Glenn Weddell has been identified as the officer who allegedly slammed Dorian Barton with a riot shield and hit him with a baton during the G20, the Toronto Star has learned.
Weddell is the subject officer at the centre of a Special Investigations Unit probe, which in turn is at the heart of a public bickering match between Toronto police and the civilian agency charged with overseeing them.
Investigators have asked 11 witness officers to identify the colleague accused of beating Barton during last June’s G20 summit. Eight of them were within the immediate vicinity of Barton’s violent takedown; one of them was also the officer’s roommate during the summit, according to the SIU.
None of the officers were able to offer a positive identification, leading many critics to suggest a “blue wall of silence” was at play.
“I don’t know if they’re telling the truth or not,” Ian Scott, head of the SIU, told the Star last month. “I really don’t know.”
On Thursday morning, a Star reporter approached Weddell outside his home with a large photograph of the officer under scrutiny in Barton’s case and asked: “Is this you?”
“I have nothing to say,” Weddell replied several times. When asked whether he could confirm that the officer in the photograph was him, he said: “I said I’m not saying anything. Am I clear?”
Weddell works out of 11 Division in the city’s west end, according to a desk officer there. The badge number listed on his voice mail is 99944.
Barton’s case has been opened three times since last June.
The SIU has never had enough information to identify the officer in question — even after bystander Andrew Wallace came forward with pictures of the incident.
Wallace, a hospital employee, told the Star he witnessed an officer slam Barton, 30, with a shield and hit him with a baton while he lay on the ground.
Wallace then watched other officers drag Barton off by his injured arm.
In late January, police provided the SIU with the name of a subject officer. Police spokesman Mark Pugash said police zoomed in on the badge number in Wallace’s photograph in order to identify the officer.
For their part, the SIU said they couldn’t get that information using their own investigative technology.
The SIU asked police for the name of the officer who made the identification. For this case to stand up in court, it’s essential for an individual witness to clearly demonstrate how the link between the badge number and the image in the photograph was made, the SIU’s Scott explained to the Star last month.
On Thursday, SIU spokesman Frank
Phillips confirmed that the information the agency was seeking from police has been received.
The SIU and Toronto police would not, however, confirm the identity of the subject officer in the photograph.
Phillips said he could not confirm or release any names in the case unless a charge is laid. “It’s being actively investigated,” he said of Barton’s newly reopened case.
Pugash said Tuesday that the force does not release names during active investigations.
“This is an SIU investigation. Any information on the investigation will have to come from them,” he said.
Pugash told the Star last month that an internal investigation into the conduct of the officers identified as witnesses in the Barton case was ongoing.
Toronto police union head Mike McCormack also said he could not comment on an open investigation. “Obviously I’m concerned about our members being tried in the media,” he added.
Barton’s G20 saga began on Saturday, June 26, 2010, during the G20 summit. The cookie maker said he was taking pictures of police horses on his cellphone near Queen’s Park when he was blindsided by an officer’s riot shield. Barton said he was tackled, dragged across the pavement by his arms and carted off to a temporary G20 jail as he pleaded for medical attention.
Barton suffered a broken arm, black eye, bruised back and swollen limbs during his arrest. Two civilian witnesses have said more than one officer may have struck Barton with batons, according to the SIU.
Injuries still linger. Barton said he still can’t raise his arm straight over his head.
Barton’s lawyers argue that the firsthand testimony of Wallace, the hospital employee who photographed the incident, should be enough evidence to lay charges.
“It’s a ridiculous proposition,” said Brian Shiller, one of Barton’s lawyers. “Courts have relied on independent witness evidence in a multitude of cases for decades and there’s no law that requires corroboration by a police officer to lay a charge against a police officer.”
Shiller said that he’s hopeful the SIU will lay charges in Barton’s case.
Only one Toronto police officer has been criminally charged in relation to conduct during the G20 summit: Const. Babak Andalib-Goortani faces charges of assault with a weapon in two other unrelated incidents.
With files from Nicki Thomas