TORONTO (Reuters) - A white off-duty police officer was found guilty of assault in a 2016 attack on a Black man, a Canadian judge ruled in a livestreamed hearing on Friday.
Michael Theriault, a Toronto police officer, and his brother Christian Theriault, who was not from the police department, were charged with aggravated assault and obstruction of justice after the pair violently attacked Dafonte Miller in Whitby, Ontario, 50 km (30 miles) east of Toronto, using their fists and a pipe.
Miller, who was 19 at the time, lost his left eye as a result of the attack, which has drawn attention for its racial overtones and prompted questions about police brutality.
In recent weeks, police brutality against people of color has been gaining widespread attention in Canada, including an alleged attack on Chief Allan Adams, an indigenous leader in Alberta.
The brothers argued that they were acting in self-defense, after they allegedly found Miller attempting to steal their parents’ car.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Joseph Di Luca said although it was not his job to conduct an inquiry into race and policing, he was “mindful of the need to carefully consider the radicalized context from which this case arises,” local media reported.
Christian Theriault was found not guilty of aggravated assault. Both brothers were found not guilty of obstruction of justice.
The court is scheduled to return on July 15 to discuss a sentencing hearing.
Reporting by Moira Warburton in Toronto; editing by Jonathan Oatis