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The third complainant in an incident that has come to be known as “Neptune Four” was still visibly shaken as he testified Thursday at a disciplinary hearing for two officers accused of unlawfully arresting a group of teenagers six years ago.
Const. Adam Lourenco and Const. Scharnil Pais have been charged under the Police Services Act.
These are not criminal charges and have not been proved. Both officers have pleaded not guilty.
The incident on Neptune Drive in the Lawrence Heights area, in which the two officers arrested the four teens in November of 2011, was captured on surveillance cameras.
The third complainant, now 22, was 16 at the time of the arrests.
Testifying Thursday, his voice trembled at times as he recounted how Lourenco allegedly approached the group saying they matched the description of robbery suspects.
He said his friend was just trying to exercise his rights when it comes to police interactions, something he learned at the Ontario Justice Education Network, by asking if they were under arrest and walking away when the officer said “no.”
That’s when he alleges an angry Lourenco grabbed his friend, the main complainant in the case, and punched him three times.
“From what I seen he punched him two times in the ribs, one time in the face,” he told the hearing.
The lawyer for the complainants, Jeff Carolin, played the surveillance video for him frame-by-frame and asked him to point out those alleged punches.
The young man testified that two of the teens, including the main complainant’s brother, walked towards Lourenco, telling him to stop, and the officer pulled his gun.
The complainant described what was going through his mind at that moment.
Like the other two young men who have already testified to the police tribunal, the complainant alleged that Lourenco put out his thumb and accused the main complainant of assaulting him.
The complainant also told the hearing that Lourenco kneed his friend.
He said the group pleaded with Pais to put a stop to what was happening but he didn’t.
The man said he had never been arrested before that night. He also said he never laid a hand on Lourenco or Pais and yet he was charged along with the other three teens with assaulting a police officer.
He recalled how he felt and what he was thinking during the whole incident:
The charges against the four teens were eventually dropped. The complainant told the hearing he credits the surveillance footage with exonerating him.
“I would have been in jail. I wouldn’t have the job I have right now and I probably wouldn’t be going to university.”