Monday, March 12, 2007

Racist Violence From Toronto Cops: Beaten for Being Muslim and Wanting to Use the Elevator!!!

In a photo provided by Afzal Badin, he displays some of the injuries inflicted by Toronto police officers

This is a story of racism and police abuse, horrible in its own right. While what happened to Afzal Badin and his family shouldn't happen to anyone, all indications are that it is happening to more and more people, and not all of them are surviving the ordeal. Just think of another your Muslim - Mohamed Anas Bennis - whose run-in with Montreal police in December 2005 left him dead, in circumstances which one can easily imagine were similar to those described below (cops on an unrelated investigation bump into a visibly Muslim young man and decide, for reasons one can only imagine, to take him down).

From today's Toronto Star:

Police hit with $2.6M lawsuit
Young Muslim alleges racial stereotyping, says plainclothes officers didn't identify themselves when quarrel escalated to an armed invasion of his home and a beating

Mar 12, 2007 04:30 AM
Jim Rankin
Staff Reporter

Afzal Badin, late for evening prayer, assessed that the kitchen knife in his hand was no match for the men in the hallway with handguns. He abandoned his plan to confront them, ran back into his family's apartment, locked the door and dialed 911.

This was a matter, he decided, for the police.

It was after 8 p.m., and moments earlier, the 24-year-old devout Muslim, who prays five times a day, had attempted to take an elevator from his family's 10th-floor Toronto apartment to the lobby, where a friend with a car was waiting outside to take him to a mosque.

Three men he had never seen before – all white and dressed in T-shirts and jeans, he says – were in the elevator when the doors opened and prevented him from entering. One, says Badin, gave him a push. He says he told them he was in a hurry and on his way to the mosque and one of the men blocked his way. Words were said and things quickly escalated.

Now they were pounding on the apartment door.

What Badin didn't know at the time was that the men outside the apartment Feb. 26, 2006, were three undercover Toronto police drug squad officers.

One had been slammed by a judge in a recent landmark racial profiling ruling and, years earlier, had been chastised for his conduct during an encounter with a black man.

While Badin was on the phone with the 911 operator, they burst through the door, guns drawn on his parents and other relatives, ranging from his 73-year-old father to a 6-month-old baby, gathered for a typical Indian dinner, the claim says.

Badin, who says he has never had problems with police before, ended up bloodied from a violent takedown and charged with threatening death, assault with a weapon, assault with intent to resist arrest, and disarming an officer.

Later that evening in hospital, eight staples were needed to close a gash on his top right scalp, four for a cut on the top right part of his head, and two more for another scalp wound. A cut on his cheek took three stitches to close and pieces of two front teeth were lost.

Eight months later, an assistant Crown attorney, having reviewed the case and the 911 call, and consulted colleagues including Toronto's Crown attorney Paul Culver, withdrew all charges against Badin.

In a statement of claim filed last week, Badin alleges police instigated a confrontation, initially failed to identify themselves, used excessive force, breached his right to be free from discrimination of race, ethnic origin, and religion, and negligently "by reason of racial stereotype" considered him to be a "lesser person."

Badin and family members are seeking $2.6 million in damages. Four police officers, the police chief, and the Toronto Police Services Board are named as defendants.

Police have not yet filed a statement of defence and the allegations have yet to be proved in court. A police spokesperson said the service intends to defend itself.

The claim that race and religion may have played a role in the incident comes at a trying time for a police service committed to improving relations with various communities – and for a drug squad trying to carry on business in the wake of a series of internal scandals, lawsuits, and criminal charges.

Glenn Asselin, one of the four named officers, was found by a judge in 2004 to have, along with a partner, "fabricated significant aspects" of their evidence and given "untrue" testimony in a case involving a 2001 traffic stop of Kevin Khan, a black motorist wrongly accused of possessing cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.

The judge determined Khan, then 26, a teacher and real estate agent, had been stopped by Asselin (and an officer no longer on the force) because of his black skin and the expensive car he was driving. Justice Anne Molloy, in acquitting Khan, also found that he did not know there was cocaine in the car.

One month after that ruling, charges against another black man charged by Asselin and the same former officer were stayed and withdrawn without explanation. The man's lawyer, John Struthers, pointed to the earlier ruling as the reason, and called on the Department of Justice to review cases involving Asselin. It's unclear what became of that request but there was an "extremely comprehensive" internal probe of Asselin's work on the Khan case, said a police spokesperson.

"The (judge's) comments were investigated by a member of the homicide squad, who looked into the entire matter," said Mark Pugash. "The officer's investigation was reviewed by a group of senior people in the organization and their recommendation was there was no evidence to support allegations of misconduct against Asselin."

Khan, too, is suing. Police are challenging his allegations. The case is before the courts, and therefore police won't say any more about the internal probe into the judge's comments.

Asselin had also been cited in another questionable traffic stop of a black man in 1993. A judge found that Asselin and then-partner Richard Shank had "no reasonable basis to stop and demand identification" from the man, who was stopped on a "hunch" in a "drug-infested" area while walking to his car.

Police found no drugs but charged Paul Reece with failing to give proper I.D., driving while under suspension, and assaulting police. Acquitted, he launched a lawsuit of his own – alleging he'd been beaten en route to the police station – that was settled out of court for "tens of thousands" of dollars, Reece's lawyer told the Toronto Star in 2004.

Asselin is not facing – nor has he ever faced – any criminal charges.

Asselin and two other officers named in the suit, Daryl Bell and Douglas Barnard, did not respond to requests for comment. Another officer, Robert Ouellette, declined to comment.

The suit alleges in part that Police Chief Bill Blair was negligent in failing to instruct officers in the need to maintain an "even hand in policing a culturally and ethnically diverse population," and for allowing the named officers to remain members when they "lacked suitable temperaments for such employment."

The officers were in the building conducting an unrelated investigation.

Badin's civil lawyer, Barry Swadron, said in an interview "certain portions of the Crown disclosure cause me a great deal of concern from a profiling point of view. Unfortunately, I am not at liberty to provide details at this time."

Swadron said this case is an example of a civilian being confronted by "old clothes" – or undercover – officers and the confusion over identification and tragedy that can result.

"After reviewing the disclosure and the 911 tape in this matter," the assistant Crown attorney told court last Sept. 12 in the matter of Regina v. Afzal Badin, "and seeing that there is no reasonable prospect of conviction, we are going to ask that all charges ... be marked withdrawn at this time."

Badin came to Canada from India at age 12. He chose several years ago to grow his beard, he wears a traditional Muslim hat and spends hours each day in prayer at the Masjid Darus Salaam mosque on Thorncliffe Park Dr.

The news from court brought great relief. "That was so good," Badin said in a recent interview.

Far better than the night he had the elevator encounter with the three undercovers – identified in the statement of claim as Asselin, Ouellette and fellow drug squad officer Daryl Bell.

When the elevator doors opened around 8:20 p.m., one officer inside, according to Badin's statement of claim, told him to take the stairs. It was the 10th floor, Badin replied, and he tried to board. One officer, according to the claim, grabbed his hand in an attempt to push him from the elevator. All the while, the men "kept uttering profanities." The officers, Badin told the Star, also mistook his religious hat for a "do-rag" – a head covering favoured by some hip-hop artists.

His claim states the three men tried to escalate the situation, so he offered to take the next elevator. He alleges the men "pushed him" away from the button. He then ran to the apartment and announced to about eight family members inside that some men were giving him trouble.

"In a panic," the claim states, he grabbed a kitchen knife and rushed back out hoping to "frighten" the men. His pregnant sister and her husband, went out as well, unarmed. Once outside, they saw that two of the men had guns drawn, turned to get back inside and, in the confusion, Badin's brother-in-law was locked outside with the armed men, who in short order he discovered were police.

Inside, there were "thunderous sounds of attempts to kick in," the door, accompanied by demands that the door be opened or "we will shoot." Inside, Badin at some point dropped the knife and made the 911 call.

The lock gave and the three men rushed inside. A fourth man, identified in the claim as officer Douglas Barnard, also entered.

Family members attempted to shield Badin from the men, and according to the claim, his father was twice shoved and his pregnant sister "pushed ... out of the way." His brother was "grabbed ... by the throat" and shoved. One of the men, according to the claim, pointed a gun at Badin's half-brother, who was holding an infant. Police, according to the claim, eventually got to Badin, who had run "terrified" toward the balcony. "Two of the men pointed their guns at him and threatened to shoot him," states the claim. One officer struck Badin "with the butt of his gun and Afzal fell down," where he was kicked and punched in the face, head and body, the claim says.

Around 8:30 p.m., he was driven to 53 Division station and then to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre to be stapled and stitched up. Nearly five hours later, he was returned to the station, where, according to the claim, he was strip-searched. He was released on bail later that day.

Badin says he now fears police, and when he has contact with them, he looks away. He also says his parents were left shocked. "Every time I step out of the house," he said in an interview, "they tell me to be careful."


  1. let me get this straight, this guy gets pissed off because these cops wouldn't let him on the elevator, then he goes back to his apartment to get a knife to confront these guys. Later finds out they are undercover police and then has a problem with it. I'm not saying these cops made the right decision, but his actions prove that he's no better than the cops that alledgedly assaulted him. This is simply stupid actions from stupid people, nothing to do with being a racist.

  2. It seems to me, that racial profiling was not the case here as the "Anonymous" above has stated and has everything to do with stupidity.

    Usually if I am confronted by three men out numbering me telling me to not step into an elevator I would comply, but sure enough this individual decided to escalate the situation. Drawing a weapon because three men told you to not enter an elevator and to leave forthwith is not a valid excuse.

    If you haven't noticed already, usually Police take downs are never "by the book" because the individual they are taking down usually will struggle in their own unique way so things have to be changed to fit this specific need.

  3. Im not surprised to read the comments from the 2 posts above, after all they are also Racist white boys who have never ever been harassed by their white brethren. white people know nothing of racism because they are the instigators of racism. All white cops are RACIST. they are white after all eh. As a matte rof fact I am positive that the 2 above posters have also racially harassed many people in their time, that is of course a white boys base character genetic trait. Check history, whites have always been the racist evil race.

  4. To the last poster "Anonymous". Before i post a comment related to your post i feel i have to say that i am not "a white boy".

    Please note that this guy came back from his apartment waving a KNIFE in the air, why would anyone in their right mind come at 3 men with a knife after being denied entry into an elevator?

    Did you in your infinite wisdom think that maybe the 3 undercover cops NEEDED the elevator to conduct their business? Probably not, maybe they should have stepped out, paused their investigation and held the door for this guy because he's late for mosque, i mean, it's better to be polite than to be considered racist. And they couldn't pull their badges because THEY WERE UNDERCOVER and have no idea who this brother is!

    Should the guy holding the baby have had a weapon in his face, YES, the cop didn't know if the guy was armed and ready to kill the child. This was un unknown situation to the 3 cops, they had someone in the apartment ready to cut them up because they denied him an elevator ride, who knows what else he was ready to do. So yeah, they gotta come in there and start putting asses on the floor.

    You come at me with a knife and i'll do anything i can do protect myself, including sticking a gun in your face.

    Now put yourself in the shoes of these cops (although i doubt you will be able to, you're obviously so short sighted you can't see past your nose) this guy just came at them with a knife in a building that is being investigated by them, ofcourse they have to enter the apartment and arrest this guy, you can't honestly say they should have let him go?

    Go a step further and reverse their color. Had it been a white guy waving a knife at 3 black cops and you would have jumped up and down cause the trailor park trash familly just got stomped by 3 brothers!

    You and people like you embarace ME, my familly and other non whites, use your head before you use your mouth!!!

    This familly needs counseling though, courtesy of Toronto police. It's too bad this guy couldn't keep himself in check

  5. "(cops on an unrelated investigation bump into a visibly Muslim young man and decide, for reasons one can only imagine, to take him down)."

    I just re-read the article and this really stuck out. This has to be the worst piece of biased journalism i have ever encountered.

    Read the facts. The guy waved a knife in the air after going back into the apartment to fetch it! After being denied entry into an elevator with 3 undercover cops in it conducting an investigation in the building, most likelly using the elevator for this purpose!

    So no, you don't have to imagine why this happened, all you have to do is research the event, which you obviously DID NOT DO!

  6. I would like to say first off that this whole situation can be analyzed to the death but the fact remains that both the police and the man were in the wrong. . We will never know if these men are racists, only they will truly know. There are racists of every colour. White people face racisim just like any other colour. It may not be as often or intense but it is still there, don't think it is not.

    The police should not have pushed him away from the button when he said he would wait for the next elevator. If they needed that elevator for thier work then why not let him take the next one? And if it was the only elevator in the building they could of had the landlord put it on service for them so that they would have exclusive use of it. Also if they were so busy with thier "investigation" then when Mr. Badin turned around and went back into his apartment, they should have pressed the button to have the door shut and go on to the the floor where they are conducting thier investigation. Instead they decided to interupt thier investigation to come out of the elevator to see where the man is going and already have guns drawn even before he could return with the knife.

    Now of course, Mr. Badin should have never taken the law into his own hands and pulled out a knife. BUT he did not know who these people were and when he turned to go back to his apartment and they followed him, he got scared. Just like anyone would and panicked. He did not make to right decision by pulling a knife but at least he made the right decision by not using it.

    The police on the other hand beat this man to a pulp in his own house. They did not need to use excessive force. Just like if someone hits you, you can not stab them in self defence. Equal force. Mr. Badin pulled a knife and the police split open his head with the butt end of a gun. This is excesive force. After the first hit they could of had him in handcuffs and detained they did not need to proceed any further.

    However, life is not fair and niether are people. It is easy to place blame on someone else but very hard to accept responsibility when you have done something wrong.

  7. Every time there are web pages or electronic newspaper articles and posts about police corruption and brutality they are sent through the police union mailing lists to have their members make comments. It is all part of their control techniques. This tactic was first instituted under Craig Bromell's watch. The outrageous right-wing, pro-cop comments you see here are the result of it. No one but a cop would make such overwhelmingly biased and ignorant statements that ignores thousands of research studies and inquiries into the conduct of the police, particularly where it concrns racial profiling.I tell you that I have actually traced IP addresses to Ontario government web sites. The unfortunate thing is that they are doing this on the taxpayer's dime. If you look at qualified and legitimate stats the police have very little to do. It is why they might find time to get together, buy a case of beer and go to the beach and beat someone for several hours ( you know the case I am talking about) while on duty. It is the Paul Culvers of the world that told them that they can do such things on our dime. Break the law boys, I got your back. Fortunately he is gone and let us hope that there will be a new era of accountability for the police force that we all pay for. In the meantime, ignore the gnoramouses. Did you know that until very recently, the Ontario police Act only required a grade 9 level of education. You know exactly what you are dealing with here