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Watch These Cops Intimidate Someone Legally Filming an Arrest

First the Toronto police officers invade the filmer's personal space, then ask if his video will appear on World Star.

This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.

Less than a week after the Ontario government vowed to (kinda) end the controversial practice of carding, a video has surfaced showing Toronto police officers intimidating a bystander who recorded what he believed was a racially-motivated street check.

Taken in a parking lot in northwest Toronto (near Jane Street and St. Lawrence Avenue West), the video, which was published by the Toronto Star, shows Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (TAVIS) officers detaining two black youth. Another police cruiser then rolls up and two officers exit and approach the man behind the camera, Mike Miller.


"Is there a reason why you're videotaping?" one of them asks, to which Miller responds, "'Cause I have the right to."

The officers, identified by the Star as constables Brian Smith and Shawn Gill, then crowd closer and closer to Miller, at times blocking his camera lens with their hands and faces, prompting Miller to ask: "Could you guys give me my personal space?"

"You're videotaping, so what, I can't engage in a conversation?" replies Gill.

When Miller attempts to explain why he started recording, Gill interrupts him and asks, "You seen them being investigated for smoking marijuana? Is that correct?… Don't assume to know if you don't know."

At one point, Smith asks if the video is going on "World Star."

Meaghan Gray, a spokeswoman for Toronto police, said the officers' superiors are aware of the incident, but that any disciplinary action taken would be a private, personnel matter.

The two men who were being investigated were charged with possession of marijuana. Gray said Smith and Gill were actually trying to protect their identities because they are minors, but that they went about it the wrong way. At no point in the video did the cops mention they were investigating youth.

"Their lack of communication to the man doing the filming and their approach in connecting with him was entirely inappropriate," Gray said, adding officers are aware they can be filmed in the line of duty. "Nobody believes the officers did the right thing in this regard."

According to the Toronto police website, "the success of TAVIS is not based on the number of arrests made but on the reduction in crime, enhancement of public trust and confidence, and the building of relationships within the communities most affected by violence."

Asked if that mandate is served by charging teenagers for smoking weed, something that might soon be legal, Gray said that officers use their discretion in those scenarios, looking at things like complaints from the public and the amount of weed present.

Community advocates who spoke to VICE about carding last week said without a caveat in place to punish cops who disregard the laws, nothing will change on the ground.

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