Family of teen killed by Toronto police calls for apology from ex-MP

Members of the former MP Bevan Garrett’s family are asking that he apologise to those whom he has insulted during his evidence

The relatives of the black teen who was murdered by Toronto police in 2011 have lodged a complaint to the Ontario director of police services (DPS) for remarks made by the former Tory MP Bevan Garrett on the purpose of the evidence used during the December bail hearing in the case.

Former Progressive Conservative MP Bevan Garrett asked Ontario’s police watchdog to investigate comment he made in court – which has been dubbed ‘Blame Toronto’

In an email sent last week and shared with the Guardian, the family of Anthony Smith said Garrett – the founding president of Conservatives Against Corrupt Police (CACP) – has “engaged in anti-black/anti-intercommunity rhetoric and has insulted the family” during testimony last month.

“He attacked Tanya Granic Allen during the 2014 Ontario election and we actually elected a black woman to be the premier of Ontario,” read the email. “Now he is attacking our family in court. We would like the DPS to investigate him and to see if he has violated the peace bond conditions.”

“The harassment of a defence witness and family,” the family said, should be investigated by law enforcement.

Garrett asked Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) to investigate comments he made during testimony about what evidence was used during the bail hearing for officer Raghib Mihamdi, who was charged with second-degree murder in the death of Smith.

During that bail hearing, held on 12 December, Granic Allen also claimed that a judge had made an unconstitutional “racial gag order”, and several defence witnesses were barred from commenting on the facts of the case, according to a transcript of the hearing reviewed by the Guardian.

“Bevan Garrett makes anti-Black/anti-community comments at the bail hearing of Raghib Mihamdi. We feel he’s caused us harm,” read the complaint to the DPS.

Garrett was not immediately available for comment.

In September 2011, Smith was left dead on a Toronto street. He was shot at close range with a firearm as he lay in the street after being chased by uniformed police, who later laid a charge of attempted murder against Granic Allen, a defence witness in the case, for allegedly resisting arrest and possession of a prohibited weapon.

Garrett was charged with making a “racially motivated” comment in court after his comments were reported in Toronto’s Globe and Mail.

After being acquitted of contempt of court in November 2017, the Toronto Star reported that three defence witnesses – Rachel Asselin, Nicole McCormick and Dalville Okom – were “interrogated about their ethnicity” by defence lawyers while Granic Allen was testifying in the case.

Garrett’s comments in court were made about “Blame Toronto,” which he shared on Twitter. The hashtag was used by Ford Nation, the official Twitter account of Ford’s Conservative Progressive Conservative party, to support the Ford candidate in the Ontario provincial election last October.

Tanya Granic Allen (@TPSNDSB) How is it the case of Raghib Mihamdi & how many others must die before someone puts a stop to the wrongful killing of over 140 black men in Toronto over 6 years?

The association of black residents with tensions with Toronto’s policing has been deeply politicised, as mayoral candidate and fellow councillor Fred Eisenberger told CBC this April.

“No one speaks out,” he said. “The Black communities on the ground have kept quiet.

“We talk about our issues but we don’t talk about how to solve those issues, and at some point we have to put our foot down.”

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