Toronto cops hospitalize hotel guest who recorded them arresting another guest

A man staying at Toronto's Sheraton Centre Hotel used his Blackberry to video-record police who were arresting another guest. The police objected and several of them piled onto him, beating him savagely while screaming "Stop resisting! Stop resisting!" They broke two of his ribs. The whole thing was captured on the man's phone and on hotel CCTV. He's suing.

After being notified this month of the arrest and injuries by Andrus’s lawyer Barry Swadron, the province’s Special Investigations Unit is also now looking into the arrest. The unit probes police incidents that result in serious injury or death.

With smartphones everywhere, police should be getting used to the fact that citizens are going to record police operations, says Swadron.

“On the one hand, the police are frequently seeking images from surveillance cameras and personal recording devices in an effort to uncover illegal activities,” Swadron said in an emailed statement to the Star. “On the other hand, the police do not seem to look kindly when someone is recording the conduct of police officers.

St. Catharines resident Karl Andrus is arrested on Aug. 29, 2012, by Toronto police while filming arrests of fellow Sheraton Centre Hotel guests. Andrus, 35, is suing police, alleging his rights were breached. Andrus begins filming at the 1:10 mark.

In an interview with the Star, Andrus, a 35-year-old dispatcher for an IT company with no criminal record, said he had been out for a couple of drinks at a bar across the street from the hotel late on the night of Aug. 29, 2012.

Exclusive: Toronto police arrest man, take phone after attempt to film takedown at Sheraton [Jim Rankin/Toronto Star]



  1. When will these goons learn there isn’t anything illegal about filming law enforcement? The world is changing….everything and everyone is under surveillance now. It’s futile to fight it.

    1. They’ll learn when the lawsuits get so expensive that they get leaned on HARD from on high. Let’s hope it’s soon, because it’s you and me paying for their damages.

      1. They won’t though, since the lawsuits are paid by the taxpayer, so unless you’re taking it out of the police officers’ pay or pension, nothing will change that way. Getting the police, who are in charge of enforcing laws, to follow the law themselves, is supremely difficult. 

        1. “Nothing will change that way”

          You’re conflating two problems: the resolution of the cases and the fact that they’re paid with tax dollars.

          The cases have to be resolved, there is no question about this, and nothing will change with the police even more than if the cases aren’t filed in the first place. The case is the foundation for this kind of change. If there are too many payouts for police brutality and general idiocy, the people who set the law enforcement budgets are going to start asking uncomfortable questions that will result in cops losing their jobs all the way up the chain, but this isn’t going to happen if citizens don’t file against the cops.

          The key is not to settle. I know people have money problems, many times caused by the brutality visited upon them by the officers, but jury verdicts against the police have a way of making their way into the public consciousness.

          Again, “police brutality will continue while settlements and fines are paid out of tax dollars” is not logical. They don’t have a bottomless purse. Attitudes like yours only serve to dissuade people from doing anything about their treatment but accept it.

          1. I guess I wasn’t clear: the settlements and cases need to happen. The fact that they come from tax dollars rather than e.g. police union dues is a separate problem.

      2. NYPD routinely pays out hundreds of millions a year… I think over the last decade they’ve paid out close to a billion dollars… I don’t think they’re changing their ways anytime soon…

        1. Heard about this thing called “stop and frisk?” How’s that going for them? Exercise for the reader: was a court case involved?

  2. If a police officer orders you to move back, or move out of the way, is it considered  a lawful order, whereupon failure to do so is an offense?  I imagine there are lots of legitimate (and illegitimate) reasons for a police officer to ask you to move out of the way, but when is it lawful for you to disobey that order?  In the end is it up to a judge?  A jury?

    1. That’s the part that bothers me, too. He was repeated, politely, asked to move back and refused. HE informed the cops that he decided he wasn’t in their way. It doesn’t work that way. That’s not his call to make. When cops are in the midst of making an arrest and you’re ordered back, it’s not optional. 

      1.  I’m bothered by the part where the cop in the bicycle helmet threatens to falsely arrest Andrus for obstruction of justice if he doesn’t move to an area where he cannot continue to record and then multiple cops commit felony battery against Andrus while chanting “stop resisting, stop resisting.”

        The false claim that Andrus isn’t allowed to be there because it is “private property” is a nice touch.

        1.  The property owner has to tell the police they don’t want Andrus filming for the private property thing to work.

          They obviously did not have time to get such a command. I’m sure the hotel would’ve gladly agreed to the police beating of more of its customers.

      2. Are broken ribs a suitable response for someone who refuses to step back?  Don’t the cops carry pepper spray?  Even a taser would be less harmful(hopefully).

        But the message is clear, just like at a strip club, you cannot touch the officers.

      3. This is correct. He was for the most part the only one standing on the left side of the hallway. The officer speaking to him told him he was going to be in the way. The officer asked him to move to the other side. Despite this, he seemed to think that his only duty was to remain a certain distance from the arrest, rather than clear a path for incoming officers to enter and arresting officers to leave (both of which he would’ve been blocking).

        If he’d gotten knocked down by a flailing arrestee on the way out, he’d probably be suing the city for failing to order him out of the way in the first place.

        1.  So the cops attempt to force the last man still recording down a hallway where he can no longer record what’s going on, while attempting to block his cell phone from recording, and you’re arguing it’s out of….  Concern a teenage girl and her mother on the other side of the room might suddenly hulk out?

          1. The officer asked him to move to the other side of the hallway. I’m not sure why you think he was entitled to prevent the officer from clearing a path. He could’ve filmed from the right side of that hallway, no further from the action than he already was.

        2. This kind of after-the-fact apologism is particularly pathetic. You have done nothing to suggest this was the actual of intent of the officers. When it is very apparent the intent of the officers is to stop the filming of a violent takedown.

          You are free to see what you want, but what I see in your comments is support for police violence.

          1. This might just be my apologism talking, but the “violent takedown” that the guy was filming seemed like a pretty run-of-the-mill arrest. An arrestee screaming hoarsely doesn’t imply police brutality, nor does a vinyl sign being pushed out of the way.

            But maybe I just live in a rough neighborhood and/or don’t equate all police action with violence.

          2. Or maybe just someone who realizes that false dilemmas and ad hominems make for poor arguments.

        3. he’d probably be suing the city for failing to order him out of the way in the first place.

          Has this actually ever happened to your knowledge, or are you just making it up?

      4. It doesn’t work that way.

        In a police state. Where the citizens are apologists for the police state.

        1. Do you often stand between arresting officers and officers trying to enter a building to attend the scene, despite being asked to clear a path?

          1. Funnily enough, when someone is in my way, I brush past them rather than beating them half to death. But I’m just a scrawny, middle-aged, gay man, not a heavily armed cop. So obviously, they have a far greater need to disable their enemies than I do. Because reasons.

          2. You’re conflating two things, though: the initial request to have him move could have been perfectly reasonable even if what resulted was brutal.

            IOW, police can be justified in ordering people to clear a path even in non-police states (which your comment seemed to flippantly deny).

          3. Also, if you keep saying the same thing over and over, I’ll keep taking it out over and over.

          4.  Sorry, when did an officer ask anyone to clear a path?  I saw an officer telling the guy recording to move back — not to the side, as you’re saying — and I saw another officer attempting to cover his camera with his hand.

            I never heard anything about “clearing a path.”

            Although come to think of it, if he was inadvertently blocking the way — you know, enough to prevent more than four officers from getting past him simultaneously on video — perhaps the officer could have politely told him he was blocking the entrance and ask him to move to the side, rather than forcing backwards down the hell and then breaking multiple ribs.

            Just a thought.

          5. “Move to the other side of the elevators” seemed to me to be a request for him to move to the other side. I might be wrong, though.

          6. I’m pretty sure the elevators are behind Andrus, around the corner from where the arrest is taking place.  It’s possible I’m misjudging the layout, though I don’t think it would change anything much.

          7. I don’t think we’d be having this argument if they hadn’t broken the guy’s ribs.  Asking someone to make way for the police is reasonable.  Arresting them if they refuse might even be reasonable.  Breaking that person’s ribs isn’t reasonable.

          8. I agree with that completely. I find it so weird that I was piled on for daring to suggest that the initial request made sense. Apparently that makes me a police violence apologist (post hoc reasoning notwithstanding).

            Now I remember why I stopped posting on this forum.

      5. Other people, not filming were not asked to move back.
        Therefore it was not a legal order.

    2.  It’s a lawful order when a cop asks you do so.
      It’s their call in the field.

      I do think the response was a bit over the top. But the cops where ‘asking’ him to move back in all cases of the filming..and even when he questioned their ‘line’…he crossed it and came up closer.

      1. So just to be clear, threatening a citizen with wrongful arrest and then committing felony battery is “a bit over the top”?

      2. It’s a lawful order when a cop asks you do so.

        This means there’s no such thing as an unlawful order from a cop. Pretty sure that’s not the case.

      3. It’s a lawful order when a cop asks you do so.

        Wow. I don’t think you thought about that before you wrote it.

    3.  In this case, the officer never mentions citing Andrus under any kind of “failure to obey a lawful order” statute, which he might’ve been able to justify.  (Personally, I don’t think he’d be able to — it seems pretty clear from the actions of the officers on tape they’re acting purely to prevent themselves from being recorded, rather than any legit safety or law enforcement concern.)

      Instead, the cop in the bicycle helmet threatens to arrest Andrus for obstruction of justice, which is a very, very different and much more serious charge.  Failing to obey a lawful order is usually a misdemeanor punishable by fine.  Obstruction of justice in Ontario is a felony punishable by two years in prison.  It’s also a specific intent crime, which means not only must the person in question commit an act that “obstructs, defeats, or perverts the course of justice,” but, in committing that act, the person must INTEND to pervert, obstruct, or defeat the course of justice.

      It’s really, really dubious to suggest that recording an arrest from ten meters away is going to satisfy even the first prong, and there’s absolutely no way in hell it’s going to satisfy the second.  Whatever random guy in the hotel is doing, he’s clearly not trying to prevent a just arrest and conviction.

      Obstruction of justice is felony because it’s meant for people who actively and purposely interfere with a police investigation.  What I just cited is the general, catch all part of the statute.  The first part deals more specifically with attempts to bribe or intimidate witnesses into altering their testimony.

      To use it to threaten a guy standing back and recording an arrest is nothing short of disgusting, and in a just world, the cop who made the threat would, at the very least, be facing a long, genuine suspension, or even be thrown off the force if he’s got a pattern of such behavior.

      1.  Oh don’t you worry, I’m sure police violence apologists, who give rule of law lip service, will continue to ignore your cogent points.

        1. Are the police capable in your view of performing any action that isn’t violent? I can’t tell whether you think people are police violence apologists because they’re police violence apologists or because they simply disagree with you.

      2. Thanks, I was actually hoping for this sort of response.  I was afraid my question was going to be misconstrued as either cop-apologetic or cop-hating, but was actually wondering what my rights were (and the rights of the police and the rights of the hotel guest).

    4. Those charges are always dropped. It’s just a harassment technique.

      “You can beat the charge, but you can’t beat the ride.”

    5. We’re allowed to disobey an ‘order’ from the police in many circumstances. They’re not our overlords. Their job is to enforce the law, that’s the thing you can’t disobey.

  3. I agree with this man’s intentions, but I know that I am not willing to pay the price of getting beat up by the police. We need ubiquitous, invisible surveillance of police actions. If everybody wore a buttonhole camera there would be no way for the police to take on the entire crowd watching an arrest.

  4. The cops probably figure why bother? SIU investigations very rarely result in cops being charged. Wikipedia says they did 238 investigations in the 2006-2007 fiscal year (the last year listed) and a total of 2 cops were charged. To be fair, they are supposed to investigate every serious incident, so many of those cases probably are perfectly reasonable, but there are a lot of incidents like this caught on camera that never seem to result in officers being punished.

  5. “The police objected and several of them piled onto him, beating him savagely while screaming ‘Stop resisting! Stop resisting!'”

    I know that game.  We call it, “Stop hitting yourself.”

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  6. It would help if the police were actually held to account everytime they were caught on camera doing something they shouldn’t do, instead of allowed to take paid administrative leave followed by eventual promotion.  If you beat someone to death, you don’t deserve a raise, you deserve a long stretch in jail.  

  7.  Strange but rarely are these police officers fired and criminally charged as I recall. Typically there is a public comment that the officers were put on leave pending an investigation and then nothing more is heard.

    It would be nice to see that the individual officers were PUBLICLY held accountable for their actions and if they are found to have assaulted an innocent member of the public, they should be fired and tried in a criminal court and sentenced accordingly. 

  8. Which is a collusive policy among law enforcement agencies in the whole of the Capitalist West.

  9. The whole thing was captured on the man’s phone and on hotel CCTV.

    Well that’s just great. Now they’re gonna have to beat up whoever installed the CCTV.

    1. They’ve already taken the hotel out back for a long talk with a phonebook and a rubber hose.

  10. I know the practical reasons for having them, but I would find it very difficult to respect an officer who was wearing shorts and a bicycle helmet indoors. It may just be that I’m not used to seeing police dressed like that, but they just look like kids to me.

  11. The employees of the hotel were recording the entire thing using CCTV? Why can’t the police break the ribs of the hotel manager, desk staff, and perhaps some of housekeeping? Wouldn’t that help to teach them a lesson and send a message to other hotels in the area?

  12. Now that even abuse of white middle class folks is being captured on camera will people start to reconsider all those “He was resisting/fighting” the police dismissals they used to make when these incidents happened in poor brown neighborhoods?

  13. Yes but the trouble is that they are not getting to that stage. There needs to be accountability for those we entrust a badge and a gun.

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