Around 2:30am on the morning of Jun 7 — after a night out at El Convento Rico dance club on College St — Corey John and Takonda Majikwa were walking west toward Ossington when a group of men approached them.
“They were drunk and had open beer bottles in their hands,” says John. “When they approached us they were making remarks as ‘faggot,’ ‘fudge packer’ and ‘you and your girlfriend.'”
John — who describes the group as four white males and one black male, all appearing to be in their 20s — says he and Majikwa ignored them and continued to walk toward their parked car. But the group followed.
According to John one of the men taunted, “Do you want to get something going on?” to which John responded, “Dude, this is Canada.” Majikwa began reasoning with the group of men, at which point John says one of the men apologized for his behavior, blaming it on the alcohol.
“I called 911 while [Majikwa] was speaking with the men and the operator told me to walk away,” says John. “I told her that is what we were trying to do, but the guys blocked us.”
John says that while Majikwa was speaking with the other men, the black male in the group came up behind him.
“My back was turned, I did not see him coming and he hit me with a beer bottle,” says John. “I just felt the blood gushing down my face, [said] ‘You hit me, dude,’ and they all began running up an alley.”
After calling 911 again and being unable to reach an operator John then returned to El Convento Rico where the club’s security called 911 again, after which police and paramedics arrived. “After dressing the cut the paramedic told me I should still go to the hospital and I spent another seven hours at the Toronto East General Hospital without being seen. Apparently I was not a critical case so I left the hospital without seeing a doctor and went to my personal doctor later that day. He placed me on a 72-hour watch for soft tissue damage and bleeding above my left eye.”
Det Daniel Murphy of Toronto Police Service’s 14 Division confirms there is a report of the incident and says that although a description of the suspect was taken no arrest has been made.
“It is difficult to follow up on a case such as this when there is a general description, unless there is a relationship between the victim and the associate,” says Murphy.
John says he isn’t impressed by 911’s handling of his first call, made while he and Majikwa were being hassled but before he was allegedly struck.
“[The 911 operator] insisted that we walk away and hung up the phone,” he says. “Could you imagine that?”
Const Wendy Drummond of Toronto Police Service’s media relations declined to comment on the specifics of John’s 911, call citing confidentiality concerns, but she says 911 dispatch follows a general protocol when handling calls reporting homophobic harassment on the street.
“If a person is in the presence of someone else and they are feeling threatened then a police officer would be dispatched,” says Drummond. “The [caller] would be given advice to seek safety in some place away from the suspect.”
John says that the second time he called 911 for help — after he had allegedly been hit and was bleeding — he wasn’t able to get through to anyone. “I called 911 again only to be greeted by a voice mail.”
Drummond clarifies that it isn’t voicemail, but an automated message asking callers to hold the line. “There is a recorded message to hold if operators are busy,” she says.