Witness at Toronto police corruption trial says he feared for his life
Toronto— The Canadian Press//Published Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012
by some of the police officers accused in a massive corruption case that he feared for his life, court heard Tuesday.
“I was semi-conscious, I was covered in blood from head to toe,” said Christopher Quigley, a jewelry broker and one-time drug dealer.
“I was terrified, I really thought I was going to die. I thought it was possible they were going to kill me in this room.”
Mr. Quigley, on the stand for a second day of the long-delayed trial of five former Toronto drug squad officers, said he was punched, kicked and choked as the officers asked where he kept his drugs and money until he lost consciousness.
“I was being pulverized,” he said.
Mr. Quigley alleges the attack was unprovoked and began when the unit’s head, John Schertzer, hit him across the face after he was taken in for questioning over stolen sunglasses.
He testified that he was later subjected to three sets of beatings by another one of the accused, Ned Maodus, along with another officer who is not part of the trial.
Steven Correia, the third officer accused, helped transport him in and out of the interrogation room during his nine-hour detention, Mr. Quigley said, at one point having to hold him up because he couldn’t walk.
All along, Mr. Quigley testified, they asked him where he kept his drugs and his money, threatening to ransack his apartment if he didn’t comply.
“You better tell these guys what they want to hear or this is going to go on all night,” Mr. Quigley said Mr. Correia told him.
He complied, but asked they be careful with his dog, a Boston terrier, from whom Mr. Quigley “cared deeply,” court heard.
When he eventually got home, Mr. Quigley found his apartment was “torn apart,” items were missing, and his dog had been let out into the street — although he was later found by the Humane Society.
The beatings ended as suddenly as they started, Mr. Quigley said, and he was eventually taken to a holding cell.
“That’s when I started throwing up blood, and I was choking on my blood. I couldn’t breathe,” he said.
“I recall blacking out and the next thing I know all hell broke lose.”
Mr. Quigley said he was rushed to hospital, were staff were “horrified” by his injuries.
He was eventually released on bail and later charged with various offences. He pleaded those down to possession of marijuana, he said, because his lawyer told him “it was the best deal you’re going to get.”
As part of that deal, he also agreed not to sue the officers who allegedly assaulted him.
Police reports suggest Mr. Quigley became violent upon hearing his then 60-year-old mother’s home was also being searched, something he denies.
He also said that only a portion of the $54,000 the officers seized from him was eventually returned, since the officers’ log showed the safety deposit box with the money only contained $22,850.
Mr. Quigley’s is the first of five cases the Crown intends to use to prove the officers showed a pattern of violence, beating up and intimidating suspects, stealing from them, conducting illegal searches, and then lying to prosecutors to cover their tracks.
The case against Mr. Schertzer, Mr. Maodus, Mr. Correia, Joseph Miched and Raymond Pollard goes back more than a decade.
Charges were first laid in 2004, but delays have slowed the case’s progress through the courts.
The men have all pleaded not guilty and none of the allegations have been proven in court.
The defence will get their change to cross-examine Mr. Quigley on Wednesday.
By SAM PAZZANO, QMI Agency
“They engaged in unjustified acts of physical violence against people in their custody,” prosecutor John Pearson told a jury in a three-hour opening statement for the long-awaited trial of five former members of the Central Field Command.
John Schertzer, 54, Steve Correia, 44, Ned Maodus, 48, Joseph Miched, 53, and Raymond Pollard, 47, collectively face 29 charges — laid in January 2004 — including obstructing justice, perjury, assault and extortion related to their work between 1997 and 2002.
Each has pleaded not guilty to all the charges which are linked to five drug investigations.
“The defendants tried to cover their tracks to protect themselves from the reach of the law,” he said.
They falsified notes to conceal illegal searches, withheld vital information from the drug cases they were investigating and they lied in court, Pearson said.
The first victim, part-time pot dealer Christopher Quigley, testified Monday how he was pummelled into unconsciousness by Maodus and his partner, under the watchful eye of their “boss,” Schertzer.
Court heard that on April 30, 1998, Quigley, 46, left police custody with a bloody nose, sore ribs and a forehead gash that required stitches to close it. Photos of his battered face were displayed in court.
Schertzer watched while Maodus and other officers inflicted a lengthy attack on Quigley to extort information from him about where he hid his drugs and money, Pearson alleged.
While Quigley was detained, drug squad cops obtained warrants to search both his and his mom’s north Toronto home, he said.
When they searched his mother’s residence, they discovered she was holding his cash in a bank safety deposit box, Pearson said.
Schertzer and Correia subsequently seized about $54,000 from the safety deposit box, but reported seizing only $22,850, the prosecutor said.
Police alleged “upon hearing the news of his mother’s home being searched, Quigley became violent and punched one of the officers, which caused Maodus and another officer to restrain Quigley,” thus causing these injuries, said Pearson.