Fired Toronto cop caught drunk driving in Whitby loses appeal
Published August 16, 2022 at 9:18 pm
A Toronto Police officer with numerous misconduct complaints, including police brutality and drunk driving, has lost an appeal he filed after his removal from the service, which argued he was fired “erroneously.”
Const. Matt Brewer pled guilty to three counts of discreditable conduct and a count of using profane, abusive or insulting language to the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) back in March 2020.
Brewer joined the Toronto Police in 2002 and became a constable in 2008. Conduct complaints began in October 2016 and followed until 2019. Six total misconduct charges, including two earlier incidents were filed in that time.
The first charge, which was handled without a hearing, resulted when Brewer was found drinking an alcoholic beverage in a police car. He was swearing and “behaving erratically.” Brewer lost eight hours pay for this.
The next, which Brewer pled guilty to in 2018, was filed after an incident in December 2016. On December 1, Brewer, “under the influence of alcohol and prescription drugs and in a state of crisis,” per the OCPC, brought a gun into the room his wife was sleeping in.
After following his wife throughout the house with the gun he placed the gun in his mouth. Then, while outside, he fired it eight times into the air.
For this Brewer was convicted of common nuisance and unauthorized firearm possession. He was given a suspended sentence with probation and remained a cop. Weighing Brewer’s actions, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chance of rehabilitation, the hearing officer simply docked Brewer five days pay.
The next charged stemmed from an incident in Toronto in September 2016 when Brewer and another Toronto officer arrested a suspect, Tyrone Hines, who had stabbed another patron outside a Popeyes.
After Hines was put in the back seat, he continued to resist pushing his feet against the backdoor. In reaction Brewer slammed on the breaks, cursed Hines and pepper sprayed him while he remained cuffed in the backseat.
When Hines went to trial, Justice Richard Blouin stayed the suspect’s charges of assaulting police as a result of the pepper spraying. The judge determined Brewer’s actions constituted excessive force.
Staying the charges was “the only remedy capable of expressing this court’s condemnation of Const. Brewer’s excessive use of force,” the judge concluded.
After roughly 18 months without incident, Brewer found himself in trouble again. Brewer believed a TPS staff sergeant was having an affair with his wife. In series of text messages and a phone call on July 6 and 7, Brewer cursed out and threatened the sergeant in attempt to talk about the alleged affair.
Also on July 7, Brewer went to his wife’s gym. After hurling obscenities at his wife Brewer threw her things against a wall, kicked over a garbage can and stormed out. Witnesses claimed Brewer was drunk at the time.
Finally, on May 5, 2019 Brewer was driving down Taunton Road in Whitby when he left the roadway, hopped the curb and crashed into a parked pick-up truck. When Durham Regional Police arrived on scene, Brewer was visibly drunk and acted “rude and belligerent.” He identified himself as an off-duty officer
Brewer blew 291 and 287 in two Breathalyzer tests conducted on scene, well above the legal limit of 80. The following November he pled guilty to dangerous driving and impaired driving receiving probation, a fine and a suspended license. He was also suspended from the Toronto police force.
The OCPC held a hearing on September 10, 2020 regarding the latter four incidents. Brewer already had entered a guilty plea, however his defense argued he should remain an officer albeit heavily demoted.
Much of Brewer’s defence centred on his twin diagnoses of PTSD and alcohol use disorder. In all of the incidents save pepper spraying Hines, Brewer was heavily drunk. These diagnoses were confirmed again in February 2021 as part of the hearing process.
According to public OCPC records, Brewer has lived with alcohol use disorder for the past 20 years. Having joined TPS in 2002, this would have been longer than his career. After Brewer fired his gun at his home in 2016, he went to a three-week treatment program, but relapsed the following August. He was back at work by November 2017.
After his Whitby drunk driving arrest, Brewer returned to treatment after two years off the wagon. He was discharged from treatment on July 30, 2019, and as of his last hearing in April 2022 had been sober for 20 months.
“To his credit, Mr. Brewer has demonstrated a commitment to ongoing sobriety from alcohol and other psychoactive drugs of abuse,” read the February 2021 report. Brewer attended a few 12-step meetings and meetings of the police support HEART program, but stopped attending.
However, blood tests also discovered use of anabolic steroids. Brewer admitted to using the performance enhancement drug for bodybuilding since 2015. Steroids of this nature are known for ‘roid rage,’ bouts of anger, aggression and even violence.
The prosecution meanwhile argued that Brewer should be fired due to his misconduct and the erosion of public trust the misconduct caused.
The hearing officer found “there is a nexus between PC Brewer’s personal circumstance and his misconduct that might support mitigation,” and “that policing can no longer remain insensitive to the realities and existence of legitimate and medically established mental health of its members.”
“Punishment in the face of established mental illness is not the most appropriate approach. Certainly not, in the current environment where Policing is under acute public scrutiny to demonstrate reform and reflect contemporary values.”
“However, this does not preclude an appropriate penalty up to and including dismissal for misconduct committed, and in full consideration of all aggravating and mitigating factors.”
That said, the hearing found Brewer’s continued use of steroids, “most troubling and aggravating, upon harm to the reputation of the Service.” Continued steroid and alcohol use, the hearing found, “raised insurmountable doubts” about Brewer’s future suitability as a police officer. As a result the panel concluded Brewer be fired.
On April 24, 2022, Brewer submitted an appeal alleging the hearing officer, “made several interrelated errors in principle that, at their heart, arise from a failure to grasp the realities of the recovery process and the ongoing usefulness of a police officer to their employer where meaningful but imperfect steps to recovery are taken.”
This errors, the defense claimed, culminated in an erroneous judgement that Brewer could not be reformed of rehabilitated. However, the appeal was denied because, “The appellant has failed to establish that the Hearing Officer committed an error in principle or failed to consider relevant material facts.”
The OCPC found that the hearing officer was correct in their judgement, their consideration of Brewer’s diagnoses, recovery process and misconduct record and in their consideration of the firing process.
As a result, the OCPC confirmed Brewer’s firing and he will remain off the Toronto Police Service.insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising