Arguments Wrap In Trial Of Police Accused Of Beating Deaf
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 8, 2004
TORONTO, ONTARIO--Closing arguments wrapped up last week in the case of two police officers accused of beating a man because he is black and deaf.
Ontario Court Judge Paul Robertson is expected to reach a verdict on October 19 regarding the assault charges against Toronto Police Constables Wayne Taylor and Syed Moosvi.
The case involves Peter Owusu-Ansah, a 25-year-old carpenter who moved to Canada from the African nation of Ghana when he was a teenager.
Owusu-Ansah testified this summer that he was talking with friends on a street corner on the evening of September 13, 2002, when constable Wayne Taylor approached him and asked to see his identification. When Owusu-Ansah was not able to show identification, the officer asked for his name, birth date and address. He gave his first name, but not his last, Owusu-Ansah said, because he was tired of being stopped by police -- more than 17 times in the past few years.
Owusu-Ansah testified that when constable Syed Moosvi arrived on the scene as backup, he told both officers to go ahead and arrest him if they thought he had done something wrong. He said that Moosvi then twisted his arm behind his back, and kneed him in the groin.
Owusu-Ansah said that the constables then handcuffed him, threw him in the back seat of a police cruiser, then drove him to a parking lot behind a school. There, he claimed, Moosvi punched him in the face, kneed him some more, then took off his vest and asked if Owusu-Ansah wanted to fight him.
Police records show that Owusu-Ansah was released without conditions once the constables learned he was deaf.
More than a dozen Toronto-area groups have banded together to support Owusu-Ansah and draw attention to what they call "the intersection between race and disability in police harassment and abuse". That coalition includes the Canadian Hearing Society, the African Canadian Disability Community Association, the Bob Rumball Centre for the Deaf, the Canadian Association for the Deaf, and Silent Voice Canada.
"Disability is not a crime," said Phyllis Gordon, Executive Director of ARCH: A Legal Resource Centre for Persons with Disabilities, in a coalition press statement. "Persons with disabilities expect the police to respect the diversity of this city and the diverse abilities of the people living in it."
Owusu-Ansah has filed a $60,000 civil lawsuit against the Toronto Police Service Board and the two officers. He has also lodged a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission alleging police harassment and discrimination based on color and disability.
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