Cop versus cop: Lawyer for Toronto officer accused of beating black teens accuses tribunal head of being biased

TORONTO — A Toronto police tribunal hearing for an officer accused of beating and pulling his gun on four black teenagers heading to a tutoring session will be delayed after his lawyer claimed the officer overseeing the case would be biased against him “to advance corporate interests.” 

, who is representing Const. Adam , filed a calling for hearing officer Insp. Richard Hegedus to be replaced because of a “reasonable apprehension of bias.” 

Despite claiming he is not alleging a “sinister plot or conspiracy,” wrote that allowing Hegedus to sit in on the proceedings would be “untenable.”

“Hegedus is the chief’s subordinate in a paramilitary organization with a highly rigid chain of command,” he wrote in tribunal documents.


“Within this system there is no tradition of impartiality; in fact there is a tradition of obedience to one’s superiors.” 

Lourenco and Const. Scharnil Pais face four misconduct charges under the Police Services Act for their role in the 2011 arrest of the teens — known as the Neptune Four, after the housing complex were the incident took place. They were charged after a probe by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director.

The teens — 15-year-old twins, another 15-year-old and a 16-year-old — were on their way to a mentoring program for at-risk youth in Lawrence Heights, when they were allegedly approached by police and asked for identification.

When one refused, there was a violent scuffle, the teens claim, during which they were beaten and Lourenco pointed a gun at them. They were charged with assaulting police, but the charges have been withdrawn.

The police chief appoints hearing officers to oversee tribunal cases. Hegedus was recently named the “sole ‘permanent’ hearing officer.”

The hearing officer can be removed from his position “if Hegedus renders decisions that the chief does not like,” Gridin’s factum says.

Counsel is now in the position of to argue a case in front a hearing officer whom he of the most acts of and criminal misconduct

Because of the media attention, Hegedus may feel pressured to make a to uphold the “avoidance of corporate discredit, the insulation of management from embarrassment,” it adds.

Gridin also argued Hegedus may be carrying “animosity” toward him because of their history.

He represented Const. Kevin Drake in a tribunal case in 2013-15. Drake investigated a collision between an officer and a civilian, and ruled the civilian was at fault.

According to the factum, Hegedus demanded Drake change the official report to say the officer was at fault instead. When Drake refused, Hegedus threatened him, then filed a complaint. Drake was charged with misconduct. 

During the tribunal hearing, Gridin accused Hegedus of criminally obstructing justice, but a hearing officer sided with Hegedus. In an appeal, the Ontario Civilian Police Commission overturned the decision and found Hegedus acted unlawfully.

After the decision was made in 2015, Toronto police did not discipline or investigate Hegedus, the factum says, and he was soon promoted to permanent hearing officer. 

“Counsel is now in the position of having to argue a case in front a hearing officer whom he has personally accused of the most serious acts of professional and criminal misconduct,” it says.

Tyler Anderson/National Post
Tyler Anderson/National PostLawyer Peter leaves Police headquarters with his team Jeff Carolin (left) and Vibhu Sharm (right) in Toronto, Ontario on Monday, October 31, 2016.

In his response, Peter Rosenthal, the teens’ lawyer, didn’t take a position on whether Hegedus should be replaced. But if this happens, he wants a retired judge to oversee the tribunal case instead.

Outside court, Rosenthal said the motion is taking focus away from the real issue.

“I’m concerned (about) that institutional structure, pressure to protect the police from looking bad but it might mean they undervalue the harm done to my complainants,” he said. 

The tribunal should be determining whether Lourenco is fit to be a police officer. 

“It came very close to these men — boys, as they were at the time — being killed,” Rosenthal said. ” In my view, somebody like that should not be on the police force.”

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