Wednesday, March 28, 2001

Fifth Estate

Beaten — The Thomas Kerr Case

Thomas Kerr is a homeless alcoholic who has had more than his share of scuffles with the Toronto police. In one of them, on August 9, 1996, he assaulted a police officer, breaking his elbow and causing abrasions to his left knee.

Two weeks later Kerr was picked up for being intoxicated in a public place and was thrown in the drunk tank at 51 division, a fairly routine event in his life. What happened next was anything but routine.

  • TRANSCRIPT (PDF): kerr-inquiry.pdf.
    Read the contents of the previously unreleased police internal inquiry.

Thomas Kerr alleges that, after a few hours of 'drying out', he was taken out the back door and placed in a waiting cruiser. He then claims he was taken to a secluded spot and beaten by five policemen, perhaps in retaliation for Kerr's previous assault of a police officer.

Doctors who examined Kerr at the time reported bruising and swelling, and blood in his urine. The police internal affairs unit launched an investigation into the allegations.

The spotlight was thrown on Constable Craig Bromell, who would later become head of the police union, and eight other officers from 51 division — suspected either of beating Kerr or knowing about it in advance. The suspects accused Kerr of lying and denied the beating had ever happened.

The internal investigation proved to be the most exhaustive one ever conducted in the history of the force, stretching to 29 volumes with thousands of pages of supporting material. The final report would eventually be submitted to Special Prosecutor Ian Scott. After reviewing it, he decided the evidence didn't justify proceeding since "there is no reasonable prospect of a conviction in the matter." Police union spokesmen claimed complete vindication of the officers.

The fifth estate has obtained a detailed summary of that still secret internal report which paints a more complex picture. Included in the report is this blunt assertion that after initial inquiries the lead investigators "formed the opinion that nine members of the "D" Platoon in 51 Division were involved in a criminal conspiracy which culminated in the kidnapping and assault of Thomas Kerr" (p 42.) The report also notes problems with Kerr's testimony that would have to be "overcome in any future prosecution," chiefly the victim's fallible memory.

Advocates for Thomas Kerr believe that the case must be heard. Readers of the complete transcipt of the internal affairs inquiry can draw their own conclusions.

Toronto Police clippings… [Fiona Stewart]

Created: March 29, 2001
Last modified: March 30, 2001
J.D. Jane Doe, c/o Walnet Institute
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Email: janedoe@walnet.org