TORONTO — A Toronto police officer was sentenced Thursday to nine months in jail for his assault conviction in the beating of a young Black man who lost an eye when he was arrested in 2016.
Prosecutors alleged Constable Michael Theriault, who was off duty at the time, and his brother Christian chased Dafonte Miller in the early hours of the morning, cornering the then 19-year-old between two homes in Whitby, Ontario, and beating him so badly with a pipe that his left eye burst.
The Theriaults pleaded not guilty to aggravated assault and obstruction of justice in relation to the Dec. 28, 2016, incident and its aftermath. The judge convicted the officer and acquitted his brother in June.
"The racialized context in which the offence took place cannot be ignored," Superior Court Justice Joseph Di Luca said in delivering his sentence.
He said he also considered the officer's high chance of rehabilitation and the conditions he will face in jail.
Di Luca also sentenced Theriault to 12 months of probation following his jail term, along with a five-year weapons prohibition.
Prosecutors had sought a jail term of 12 to 15 months and several other restrictions for Theriault. Defense lawyers asked for an absolute discharge or suspended sentence.
Miller laid out the lasting impact the incident has had on his life in a statement that prosecutors read to the court in September. In it, he said the encounter permanently altered his view of police, adding that he had never previously experienced an abuse of power to that degree.
"No one questioned him. Only I was worthy of suspicion ... Because of the color of my skin," he wrote.