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Police criticized in Halloween scuffle

A gay man says he and his partner were assaulted and harassed by five men on Church St on Halloween night — and three different cars of 51 Division officers pooh-poohed the incident.

Supt Jeffrey McGuire of 51 Division says he takes the allegation seriously and will investigate the matter to find out what happened.

Phil Knight says he and his partner left village Halloween festivities at around 1:10am the morning of Nov 1 and started walking south to their home near Church and Shuter streets. They were holding hands, Knight says. Near Gould St, a group of five young men started yelling insults at them like, “fucking faggots” and “Burn in hell.”

“One of them shoved my partner who shoved him back,” says Knight. “Two of them went at my partner. I swung at one of the guys.”

After what Knight estimates was five minutes of fighting, a Toronto Police Service car arrived, as well as Ryerson University security officers.

“The police put the guys in a group and told my partner and I to go home,” says Knight, who wanted to press charges. “We started walking south again and then looked back and the police officers were speeding away.”

Knight says the five men caught up to them and continued hurling homophobic insults. They “brawled and fought” for a couple more blocks until they arrived at their apartment building, where the men dispersed and Knight called the police.

Two police cars arrived about two hours later.

“One officer asked why I was so frustrated,” says Knight. “The officer in the far car was chuckling at me.”

They finally took his name — but no other information.

Knight says neither he nor his partner were seriously injured during the incident, though his jacket was torn, his camera was damaged and his wallet lost. Neither filed a complaint.

“The sergeant is going to hear the officer who took the call more than he’s going to hear me.”

McGuire says he takes gaybashing very seriously.

“It’s a criminal offence and it’s a hate crime as well,” he says.

McGuire says he will investigate before commenting further.