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Trial begins for Toronto officer and his brother charged in brutal beating of Dafonte Miller

OSHAWA, Ont. – The trial of a Toronto police constable and his brother accused of beating a black teen nearly three years ago has begun in Oshawa, Ont.

Michael Theriault and his brother Christian Theriault are jointly charged with aggravated assault in the beating of Dafonte Miller, who was 19 at the time of the December 2016 incident.

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The two are also separately charged with obstruction of justice in connection with how they portrayed the incident to investigators. They have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Michael Theriault was off duty at the time of the incident, which took place in Whitby, Ont., in the early hours of the morning.

Prosecutors allege the brothers saw Miller walking in the area with friends, chased him, assaulted him, then continued that assault after he briefly escaped them.

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Court heard the pair told police they caught Miller breaking into their car.

In a brief opening statement today on Tuesday, Crown attorney Peter Scrutton said the brothers could also be found guilty of aggravated assault for carrying out an unlawful arrest or using excessive force during that arrest.

Lawyers for Miller have previously alleged race was a factor in the incident, and that the Theriault brothers kicked their client and hit him in the face with a metal pipe.

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Miller’s left eye was knocked out of its socket and split into four, his lawyers have said. He also suffered a broken nose, broken orbital bone, bruised ribs, reduced vision in his right eye and a fractured wrist, they said.

He was charged with assault with a weapon, possession of a dangerous weapon, theft under $5,000 and possession of marijuana. The charges were later withdrawn.

The judge-alone trial is expected to last two weeks.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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