Toronto Police Settle G20 Human Rights Case Against Paraplegic Man

Gabriel Jacobs, a panhandler who uses a motorized wheelchair, was arrested during the 2010 summit, then later released without charge.

Published On Tue Mar 6 2012
Wendy Gillis
Staff Reporter

Toronto police have settled a human rights claim filed by a paraplegic man arrested during the G20 summit, but the terms will not be made public due to a confidentiality clause.

Gabriel Jacobs, a panhandler paralyzed from the waist down, filed a claim with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario last year, after he was arrested during the 2010 summit and later released without charge.

According to the claim, Jacobs was “dragged” from his motorized wheelchair, thrown into the back of a police cruiser and left on the floor of a temporary G20 detention centre where he defecated on himself because guards refused to help him.

Tess Sheldon, Jacobs’ lawyer, told the Star the claim was settled Friday, but said the terms “remain confidential.”

“The matter has been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of all parties,” said Sheldon, who handled the case pro bono with ARCH Disability Law Centre.

Jacobs, 48, sought $100,000 in compensation for humiliation and loss of dignity in his claim, filed against the arresting officer, the Toronto Police Services Board and Police Chief Bill Blair.

The claim also asked for mandatory human rights training for police and an order for the police board to develop policies to better accommodate the disabled in jails and temporary holding centres.

Sheldon said she could not disclose the amount awarded to Jacobs. While she confirmed the police force is undergoing policy changes regarding the treatment of disabled people, she could not confirm if this was as a direct result of Jacobs’ claim.

“Given the upcoming policy changes, we are optimistic that Mr. Jacobs’ experience will not be repeated for others,” she said.

Mark Pugash, director of corporate communications for the Toronto police, said he could not comment on the settlement because of its confidential nature.

When asked if the settlement could be seen as an admission of guilt by the police, Pugash said “settlements, by definition, do not involve any admission of any kind.”

Reached at his subsidized apartment near Dundas St. E. and Sherbourne St. Tuesday night, Jacobs said he was “content and satisfied” with the outcome.

“I just did the best that I could to help other handicapped individuals,” he said.

But Doug Johnson Hatlem, a downtown Toronto street pastor and advocate for Jacobs, called the settlement “hush money.”

“(Jacobs) never found out the names of the officers who did this so you have a certain amount of money being paid to buy impunity for officers who treated one of our most vulnerable like a ragdoll.”

With files from David Rider

Reproduced from–toronto-police-settle-g20-human-rights-case-against-quadriplegic-man