Prosecution wants Toronto G20 officer who ordered mass arrests demoted for year

TORONTO – The prosecution is calling for a year-long demotion for the senior Toronto police officer who illegally ordered mass arrests at the G20 summit six years ago.

After the year, Supt. David (Mark) Fenton would automatically be restored to his rank.

Prosecutor Brian Gover says the demotion would cost Fenton between $10,000 to $15,000 in lost pay.

Gover also says such a penalty would be a “meaningful consequence” for the officer’s misconduct.

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Fenton was convicted last year under the Police Services Act for his actions at the tumultuous summit.

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The tribunal found Fenton had no grounds to order riot police to box in and arrest hundreds of people – many of them innocent bystanders.

Fenton, who once described the G20 protesters as a “marauding group of terrorists,” apologized through his lawyer after his finding of guilt, Gover noted.

At the same time, the prosecutor said the defence’s request for a reprimand would not be sufficient given the seriousness of his behaviour.

For one thing, Gover said, Fenton told the tribunal he had done the “right thing” and “would do it again.”

“This was not a momentary lapse of judgment,” Gover told retired judge John Hamilton.

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The G20 weekend was marred by a spate of vandalism in which store windows were smashed and two cruisers set alight.

About 1,100 people – about 600 of them on Fenton’s orders – were detained or arrested, many ending up in a widely condemned makeshift detention centre.

Gover said the challenging situation that weekend called for cool heads to prevail but Fenton, instead, acted like a “hot head” who was “spoiling to use his authority.”

“Hundreds of people were denied their constitutional rights as a result of (his) actions,” Gover said.

Fenton, a 27-year member of the Toronto police force, is the only upper command officer to face disciplinary proceedings for his summit actions.

The tribunal heard he had an “exemplary” record and enjoys strong support from his subordinates.

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Complainants at the two-day sentencing hearing want him fired for what they called a “repeated and sustained abuse” of his authority.

They also said his “terse apology” was a backhanded attempt to justify his actions.

Their lawyer, Adrienne Telford, said many of those detained or jailed in deplorable conditions were “deeply affected” by Fenton’s actions.

In addition, she said, he tried to abdicate responsibility for his misconduct by blaming subordinates for the mass violation of civil rights.