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This man says Toronto police left him with a broken nose and a serious eye injury. His lawyer wants to know why they didn’t tell the SIU

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Toronto police Const. David Hopkinson, speaking generally on Toronto Police Service policy, said police are expected to notify the SIU as soon as they’re aware that an injury might be serious or when they’re uncertain of an injury’s severity but recognize there’s a possibility it could fall under the SIU’s mandate.

On the SIU’s website, it states they are also to be notified if “a prolonged delay is likely before the seriousness of the injury can be assessed,” so that they can monitor the situation.

SIU investigators interviewed Clarke on Dec. 17. He also filed a complaint with the Office of the Independent Review Director on Dec. 20.

Clarke said police charged him at the Scarborough hospital and released him from custody on a promise to appear in court,

This story is based on police and medical documents provided to the Star by Clarke, from an interview with him in his lawyer’s office and his written account given to the OIPRD.

“Given this case is now under investigation by the SIU and by Professional Standards I am unable to offer any comment on the allegations that have been brought forward,” Toronto police spokesperson Meaghan Gray said.

Once the SIU becomes involved, police typically do not release information on a case. None of Clarke’s allegations have been proven in court.

The knocking began after 8 p.m.

“Somebody was calling, ‘Joe, hey Joe,’” Clarke told the OIPRD. Through the apartment door’s peephole, he said he saw a woman, whom he later learned was a plainclothes police officer. She had a pony tail, and was not wearing identification, he said.

“I thought maybe this was a crazy person,” Clarke, who lives with a cousin in a 10th-floor apartment unit, told the Star. He said he hoped the woman would leave, but the knocking continued, along with more calls for a “Joe.”

Clarke said he went back to the door and heard it being unlocked from the outside. He tried to lock the door, but it was unlocked again.

“And then, she just come in and I see all the police officers pointing a gun at me,” Clarke said.

Clarke said several officers in plainclothes — at least two women and three men — entered the apartment, when one male officer then put his gun in his holster and “just starts swinging,” said Clarke.

In his complaint, Clarke estimates being punched 20 times, including to his head and face, by a number of officers. He said he was down on the floor and recalls being kicked and held in a headlock.

It felt, he told the Star, “like my eye was coming out of my head.”

In his complaint, Clarke said it was while they were punching that the officers identified themselves as police.

He said he recalls an officer yelling, “Toronto police, stop resisting arrest.” To which he said he responded: “I’m not fighting, I’m not fighting,” and said, “I can’t breathe. You’re choking me.”

Clarke said he put his hands behind his back, was handcuffed and seated in a chair. He said “there was another police officer standing up and he had his gun on me, the whole time.” The female officer from the peephole, he said, looked at his facial injuries and said: “Whoa, which one of us did that?”

Clarke said the police — he said he doesn’t know the identities of any of the plainclothes officers — were looking for drugs and the brother of his roommate, who was on probation but had never lived there.

Clarke presented the Star with a copy of the search warrant, which does not list a name.

A police photographer arrived and documented the search while Clarke sat with his injuries.

“After they finished the searching, they say, ‘Oh, we don’t have him in custody no more. Take the handcuffs off and just wait. The paramedics are coming.’ And I was sitting there waiting on the paramedics,” Clarke said.

Clarke said he was seen by medical staff at The Scarborough Hospital who determined the eye damage required reconstructive work that would have to wait for morning, when a plastic surgeon would be on shift.

After about two hours at the hospital, Clarke said two plainclothes officers whom he did not recognize from the apartment search told him he was being charged with obstructing and resisting a police officer. He said the officers then asked him to sign a release form that meant he would not immediately have to go to the station to be booked or held for bail.

In his complaint, Clarke said police told him if he didn’t sign, they would take him to the station and his eye damage could become worse. Clarke said he signed after more than an hour.

Clarke was due to appear again at a police station to be fingerprinted and booked on the obstruct and resist charge, and has a first court appearance on Jan. 11.

Clarke said he had a first surgery in the morning after the incident and may require a second. He said he was also treated for a “nasal fracture.” According to a doctor’s report, he reported no change in vision in his left eye at the time, but he said that has since changed.

“I can’t see things closely, so it’s, like, foggy, and there’s a lot of pain,” Clarke said, adding he is suffering from headaches and doesn’t think he can see well enough to drive a car. Followup appointments with his doctor and an ophthalmologist are coming, he said.

Clarke said he has not returned to his apartment, fearing someone might let themselves in. “It’s kind of scary,” he said. He doesn’t think he can return to any kind of work for now and is now looking at going on social assistance.

In a recent report into Toronto police use of force, the Ontario Human Rights Commission — part of its ongoing inquiry into racial discrimination and racial profiling by the service — found “themes” in a review of SIU director’s reports related to police and Black citizens. In a number of cases, the SIU stated there was a “lack of legal basis” for police stopping and detaining a civilian at the beginning of an encounter, and “laying charges against the civilian that are without merit.”

Singh, Clarke’s lawyer, said he’s concerned he was the one who notified the SIU of the incident — as in the case of an off-duty Toronto police officer charged with beating Dafonte Miller, a Black teen, in Durham. Miller lost an eye in that incident, but it was his lawyer who contacted SIU.

“I had to take the initiative, and I have to thank the SIU for being very open and transparent and moving quick on this,” Singh told the Star. “But how often does this happen, and if I wasn’t offering my services to Mr. Clarke, would he get justice? It’s a huge concern that incidents like this go unreported, and even if they get reported, they go unassisted.”

SIU investigations can takes several months to complete. The SIU director then decides if any criminal charges are warranted.

“These allegations really bother me due to the nature of them, whereby (police are) attending an address for someone who is not wanted by police, they don’t identify themselves as police at the door, and then once they enter the apartment, there’s no attempt to ascertain his identity, ensure safety,” said Singh. “It’s just straight violence, as alleged by Mr. Clarke.”

With files from Alexandra Jones

Jim Rankin is a reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @Jleerankin

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Anglais

‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal

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MONTREAL — Dorel Industries Inc. says it will continue to pursue its business strategy going forward after terminating an agreement to go private after discussions with shareholders.

« Moving ahead. Business as usual, » a spokesman for the company said in an email on Monday.

A group led by Cerberus Capital Management had previously agreed to buy outstanding shares of Dorel for $16 apiece, except for shares owned by the family that controls the company’s multiple-voting shares.

But Dorel chief executive Martin Schwartz said the Montreal-based maker of car seats, strollers, bicycles and home furniture pulled the plug on a deal on the eve of Tuesday’s special meeting after reviewing votes from shareholders.

“Independent shareholders have clearly expressed their confidence in Dorel’s future and the greater potential for Dorel as a public entity, » he said in a news release.

Dorel’s board of directors, with Martin Schwartz, Alan Schwartz, Jeffrey Schwartz and Jeff Segel recused, unanimously approved the deal’s termination upon the recommendation of a special committee.

The transaction required approval by two-thirds of the votes cast, and more than 50 per cent of the votes cast by non-family shareholders.

Schwartz said enhancing shareholder value remains a top priority while it stays focused on growing its brands, which include Schwinn and Mongoose bikes, Safety 1st-brand car seats and DHP Furniture.

Dorel said the move to end the go-private deal was mutual, despite the funds’ increased purchase price offer earlier this year.

It said there is no break fee applicable in this case.

Montreal-based investment firm Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc. and San Diego’s Brandes Investment Partners LP, which together control more than 19 per cent of Dorel’s outstanding class B subordinate shares voiced their opposition to the amended offer, which was increased from the initial Nov. 2 offer of $14.50 per share.

« We believe that several minority shareholders shared our opinion, » said Letko vice-president Stephane Lebrun, during a phone interview.

« We are confident of the long-term potential of the company and we have confidence in the managers in place.”

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Anglais

Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow

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Many entrepreneurs have had to tap into government loans during the pandemic, at first just to survive, but now some are using the money to better prepare their businesses for the post-COVID future.

One of those businesses is Del Friscos, a popular family restaurant in Dollard-des-Ormeaux that, like many Montreal-area restaurants, has had to adapt from a sit-down establishment to one that takes orders online for takeout or delivery.

“It was hard going from totally in-house seating,” said Del Friscos co-owner Terry Konstas. “We didn’t have an in-house delivery system, which we quickly added. There were so many of our employees that were laid off that wanted to work so we adapted to a delivery system and added platforms like Uber and DoorDash.”

Helping them through the transition were emergency grants and low-interest loans from the federal and provincial governments, some of which are directly administered by PME MTL, a non-profit business-development organization established to assist the island’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Konstas said he had never even heard of PME MTL until a customer told him about them and when he got in touch, he discovered there were many government programs available to help his business get through the downturn and build for the future. “They’ve been very helpful right from day one,” said Konstas.

“We used some of the funds to catch up on our suppliers and our rents, the part that wasn’t covered from the federal side, and we used some of it for our new virtual concepts,” he said, referring to a virtual kitchen model which the restaurant has since adopted.

The virtual kitchen lets them create completely different menu items from the casual American Italian dishes that Del Friscos is known for and market them under different restaurant brand names. Under the Prasinó Soup & Salad banner, they sell healthy Greek options and their Stallone’s Sub Shop brand offers hearty sandwiches, yet the food from both is created in the same Del Friscos kitchen.

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Anglais

Downtown Montreal office, retail vacancies continue to rise

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Some of downtown Montreal’s key economic indicators are heading in the wrong direction.

Office and retail vacancies in the city’s central core continued to climb in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a quarterly report released Thursday by the Urban Development Institute of Quebec and the Montréal Centre-Ville merchants association. The report, whose first edition was published in October, aims to paint a socio-economic picture of the downtown area.

The survey also found office space available for sublet had increased during the fourth quarter, which may foreshadow even more vacancies when leases expire. On the residential front, condo sales fell as new listings soared — a sign that the downtown area may be losing some of its appeal to homeowners.

“It’s impossible not to be preoccupied by the rapid increase in office vacancies,” Jean-Marc Fournier, the former Quebec politician who now heads the UDI, said Thursday in an interview.

Still, with COVID-19 vaccinations set to accelerate in the coming months, “the economic picture is bound to improve,” he said. “People will start returning downtown. It’s much too early to say the office market is going to disappear.”

Public health measures implemented since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago — such as caps on office capacity — have deprived downtown Montreal of more than 500,000 workers and students. A mere 4,163 university and CEGEP students attended in-person classes in the second quarter, the most recent period for which figures are available. Border closures and travel restrictions have also brought tourism to a standstill, hurting hotels and thousands of local businesses.

Seventy per cent of downtown workers carried out their professional activities at home more than three days a week during the fourth quarter, the report said, citing an online survey of 1,000 Montreal-area residents conducted last month.

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