Toronto cop’s appeal in the beating of Whitby’s Dafonte Miller dismissed in Ontario Superior Court

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Published July 19, 2021 at 5:53 pm

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The Court of Appeal for Ontario has dismissed an appeal from lawyers representing an off-duty Toronto police officer who was convicted of assaulting a Whitby teen in 2016.

Michael Theriault was sentenced last November to nine months in jail for beating Dafonte Miller with a lead pipe in December 2016, leaving him with a ruptured eye. He was also sentenced to 12 months of probation following his jail term, along with a five-year weapons prohibition.

He is currently suspended without pay from the force.

He was acquitted of aggravated assault and obstruction of justice charges at his trial – which garnered national attention, with 20,000 people viewing the verdict live on YouTube.

The YouTube event – allowed because of the Covid-19 pandemic – was a first for the Ontario Superior Court.

Theriault’s brother Christian, who was also involved in the attack, was also acquitted of aggravated assault and obstruction of justice in the November trial.

Theriault’s legal team appealed the verdict in May, saying the assault conviction was “unreasonable” based on the evidence provided.

The Crown also appealed Theriault’s acquittal on the other charges but said they would ask for a new trial only if the defence appeal was granted.

Based on that criteria, Justice of Appeal M. Tulloch dismissed the Crown’s appeal “without merit.”

Miller is Black and the Theriault brothers White, and during the sentencing last year, Ontario Superior Court Justice Joseph Di Luca said the case, and others like it, “raise significant issues involving race and policing that should be further examined.”

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