The judge’s decision to come this morning in the Dafonte Miller case


Friday, Sharon Fletcher will don her “Here for Dafonte” t-shirt and go to the Oshawa, Ontario courthouse for the verdict of the trial of two men accused of beating Dafonte Miller – a case that made the headlines in the Toronto area and across the country.Even though the courthouse will be empty due to the new coronavirus, she will stand with others outside to show her support for Miller – a young black man left blind in one eye during a confrontation with a police officer and his brother of three and- half a year ago.

You can see the judge’s decision live here:

Fletcher, a black woman with adult children, says she cannot imagine the possibility that the brothers will be found not guilty.

But if convicted, “I think for the first time in a long time, it will feel like black lives really matter. That we are counted and considered to be human, “she told CBC News.

Sharon Fletcher will attend a rally outside the Oshawa Courthouse organized by the Durham Black Accountability Coalition to support Dafonte Miller and his family. (Submitted by Sharon Fletcher)

Michael Theriault, a Toronto police officer who was on leave that night in December 2016, and his younger brother, Christian, are both charged with aggravated assault and obstruction of justice. The brothers pleaded not guilty, telling the court that Miller attacked them that night and that they were defending themselves.

Ontario Superior Court judge Joseph Di Luca will read his judgment live on a YouTube link widely shared by community members.

Evidence for the trial was heard months before people took to the streets in the United States, Canada and around the world to protest the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other similar cases. But Miller’s case also drew attention to the same issues: anti-black racism and police brutality.

Both Michael and Christian Theriault are charged with aggravated assault and obstructing justice. (Lisa Xing / CBC)

2 very different versions of events presented to the court

The defense argued that it was not a matter of race but of self-defense. The Crown contends that the beating Miller suffered that night was not warranted.

Miller, who was 19 at the time of the incident, said he was walking on a residential street early in the morning in Whitby, Ontario. – more than 50 kilometers east of Toronto – with two friends. He testified that the brothers, who were with their father, went out and questioned them. He told the court that he had run and the Theriaults chased him, catching him between two houses.

He said they beat him – hitting him, hitting him and hitting him with an object. He walked to the front of a house and knocked on the door for help, but the beating continued.

Owner James Silverthorn, Toronto Fire Department district chief, was a witness for the Crown. He said he woke up before he even knocked on the door to the sound of screams.

He looked out of his side window and saw two men beat another man.

“It was continuous. It was very difficult, “he told the court.

He said later, when the men moved to the front of his house, he saw a man holding an object, stabbing him, to prevent the man on the ground from getting up.

A long metal pole with blood was found at the scene.

Crown lawyer Linda Shin pulled out the long metal pole found at the scene, interrogating the Durham police officer. Jennifer Bowler on the evidence. (Pam Davies / CBC)

The Theriault brothers told the court that they had broken into Miller and one of his friends in their parents’ vehicle and were trying to apprehend him.

They testified that once they caught him, Miller was the one who had a pipe and he hit them.

Michael Theriault admitted in court that he had hit Miller repeatedly, as hard as he could, while trying to disarm him. He said that he and his brother feared for their lives.

“This case is not about race,” argued the defense.

In its written concluding observations, the defense wrote: “This case does not concern race”.

The stories advanced by Miller and his lawyer “are nothing like what actually happened,” read their memoir.

Defense lawyers also argued that Miller had lied in court when he denied entering cars that night.

This photo of Miller after the beating was submitted as evidence to the court. (Special Investigations Unit)

Prosecutors said that even if Miller broke into cars, the severe blows that caused him to lose his left eye were not warranted.

Lawyer Omar Ha-Redeye, executive director of the Durham Community Legal Clinic, said that regardless of the judge’s rules, he would not be surprised to mention the current climate and the increased attention paid to anti-Black racism.

“Although judges essentially make a decision on the specific case before them, what they do is also explain why the law is what it is,” he said.

“And so justice is not only done, but it must be seen to be done. ”

Ha-Redeye said one positive thing about spreading the decision online due to the COVID-19 pandemic is that more people will be able to watch the court process.

Miller’s online supporters have said the case is attracting worldwide attention, so many who will oversee the decision may do so outside of Canada.

Meanwhile, Sharon Fletcher will wait in front of the courthouse, hoping that Di Luca will return the guilty verdict she considers fair and just.

“I think it will put a little more confidence in the current system. “


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