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Superintendent Paul Gottschalk, Officer-in-Chief, Fourteen Division, Toronto Police Service.
150 Harrison Street, Toronto M6J 2A4.
We are writing to you on behalf of our neighbourhood, out of concern about the apparent lack of follow-up by police after a vicious group beating in Dufferin Grove Park on Sunday Sept.3 at about 9.30 p.m. The incident, which was witnessed by a number of people, involved a group kicking a young man into unconsciousness. It happened that a group of families were having a campfire in the park and six of the adults, when they realized to their horror that the object being kicked near the park’s basketball court was a person, shouted and eventually ran over and caused the assailants to leave the park. They called 911 and gave first aid until the emergency vehicles arrived. In their estimation the kicking had been severe and the victim did not return to consciousness until about four minutes after they started first aid. Apparently the victim was taken to St.Michael’s Hospital trauma unit on oxygen.
These witnesses were interviewed by police; others near the scene were not. When the Parks Department was asked by neighbours of the park to find out what happened through Councillor Silva, they were told that the police, astonishingly, had no record of the incident. Further inquiry through the councillor’s office yielded the information, after a week, that the victim was twenty years old and had a cut to the lip and that since he did not wish to lay charges, nothing had been done.
It appears that the police decided very quickly not to conduct an investigation into this incident, since there was no sign of any additional police presence in the park in the hours or days after the beating, nor was there apparently any attempt to look for or question other witnesses. Whether this was a case of rough justice within a group or a group assault on an outsider, when a group kicks a person into unconsciousness we would expect the police to treat this as a very serious criminal act. The councillor’s office was given the information that if the victim does not wish to lay a charge the police will not act. Does this mean that any group that can sufficiently frighten its victim not to lay a charge has the power to do this kind of violence, in a public park in the presence of other park users, without consequences?
• It appears that this incident was regarded by the police as minor. It is not regarded that way by this community. The beating was witnessed by many people, many more became aware of it afterwards, and we are now requesting you to clarify the police’s position on group violence in our park. Please send the reply to Mr. and he will make it available to the rest of the neighbourhood.